WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rand Paul delivered the following remarks on the U.S. Senate floor today regarding his opposition to the FY2016 short-term continuing budget resolution. During the speech, Sen. Paul highlighted the need for Congress to pass appropriations bills individually and in a timely manner.
Below is video and transcript of Sen. Paul’s floor speech.
Sen. Rand Paul: Reminded of that line from “Cool-hand Luke,” what we have here is a failure to legislate. What we have here is a failure to use our leverage, a failure to use the power of the purse. Conservatives across America are unhappy and rightly so. We were told that when we took over Congress, when Republicans were elected to Congress that things would be different. That if voters put us in charge, we would right the ship. We would stop the deficits. And here we are with another continuing resolution.
What is a continuing resolution? It is a continuation of the deficit spending of the past. It is a continuation of the waste. It is a continuation of the duplication. What is a continuing resolution? It is a steaming pile of the same old same old. Let me be clear. A continuing resolution is not a good thing. It is more of the status quo. It is a warmed-over version of yesterday’s failures. It is an abdication of Congressional authority. It is an abdication of Congressional power.
Let us at least be honest. With a continuing resolution, no waste will be cut. No spending will be cut. No regulations will be stopped. And the debt will continue to mount. We are told that we cannot win, that we need 60 votes to defund anything. But perhaps there is an alternate future where courage steps up and saves the day. All spending is set to expire automatically. This is the perfect time to turn the tables. To tell the other side that they will need 60 votes to affirmatively spend any money.
You see, it doesn’t have to be 60 votes to stop things. All spending will expire, and only those programs for which we can get 60 votes should go forward. What would that mean? That would mean an elimination of waste, an elimination of duplication, an elimination of bad things that we spend money on. If we have the courage, we could use the Senate’s supermajority rules top stop wasteful spending. If we had the courage, we could force the other side to come up with 60 votes to fund things like Planned Parenthood. The budget is loaded with nonsense and waste.
Some will say our job is to govern, to preside. But to preside over what? To preside over a mountain of new debt to be the same as the other side? To continue to add debt after debt? Our debt will consume us if we continue to preside over the status quo. It is as if we’re on the titanic and just simply reshuffling the chairs. A continuing resolution continues the spending of wasteful money.
I’ll tell you of a few we spend money on – $300,000 last year studying whether or not Japanese quail are more sexually promiscuous on cocaine. These things should never have money spent on but if you do a continuing resolution it will continue. We spent several hundred thousand dollars studying whether or not we can relieve stress in Vietnamese villagers by having them watch television reruns. I don’t know about you but I don’t want one penny of these dollars going to this ridiculous stuff.
We spent $800,000 in the last couple of years developing a televised cricket league for developing Afghanistan. Do you know how many people have a television in Afghanistan? One in 10,000 people. I don’t care if they’ve all got TV’s; it’s ridiculous that our money – which we don’t have, we have to borrow it from China to send it to Afghanistan.
If you’re passing a continuing resolution, you’re agreeing to continue this nonsense. We spent $150,000 last year on yoga classes for federal employees. So not only do we pay them nearly one and a half times as much as the private sector employees, we give them yoga classes. If you pass a continuing resolution, this goes on and on. Nothing will change. The status quo will continue, and we will continue to spend ourselves into oblivion. We spent $250,000 last year inviting 24 kids from Pakistan to go to space camp in Alabama. We borrow money from China to send it to Pakistan. It’s crazy. It’s ridiculous. And it should stop.
We have the power to stop it. Congress has the power to spend money or not spend money, and yet we roll over and we say it must continue. We don’t have the votes to stop it. Nonsense. The other side doesn’t have the vote to continue the spending if we would stand up and challenge them. We spent a half million-dollar last year and the year before developing a menu for when we colonize Mars. We sent a bunch of college students to Hawaii to study this. $5,000 apiece we paid them. They got two weeks all expenses paid in Hawaii. And you know what a bunch of college kids came up with for the menu for Mars? Pizza.
This is where your money is going. I could go on, hundreds and hundreds of programs. If we do not exert the power of the purse, this continues. We should attach to all of the spending bills, all 12 individual bills not glommed together; we should attach hundreds of instructions, thousands of instructions. Some of the media said those would be riders on appropriations bills. Exactly. That’s the power of the purse.
If you object to the President writing regulations without our authority, Congress should defund the regulations. Congress should instruct him on Obamacare, what we object to. Congress should instruct him that we don’t want money spent on Planned Parenthood. Hundreds and hundreds of instructions should be written into every bill and passed and sent to them. Would we win all of these battles? Do we have the power to win every battle and defund everything we want? No. But you know what we start out with? Our negotiating position right now is we start out with we defund nothing.
Why don’t we start out with the negotiating position that we defund everything that’s objectionable, all the wasteful spending, all the duplicative spending, let’s defund it all and if there has to be negotiation let’s start from defunding it all and see where we get. But it would take courage because you have to let spending expire. If you’re not willing to let the spending expire and start anew, you have no leverage.
The power of the purse is only there if you have courage. You must courage of convictions to say enough is enough, that the debt is a greater threat to us than letting spending expire. Now some will report on this speech and say, “oh, he wants to shut down government.” No, I don’t. I just want to exert the power of the purse, and that means spending must expire. But I’m all for renewing the spending, but let’s only renew the spending that makes sense.
We have the power of the purse if we choose to exert it. Look at the mountain of debt. Look at the debt that continues to be added up. We have not been doing our job. The way we are supposed to spend money in Congress is 12 individual appropriations bills. They’ve passed out of committee. Why aren’t they presented on the floor? The Democrats have filibustered the only one presented. Let’s present every one of them and let the public know, let everyone in America know that it’s Democrats filibustering the spend bills.
It’s Democrats who desire to shut down government. It’s Democrats who desire not to have any restrictions on where the money’s spent. It’s the Democrats who are saying we don’t want to end wasteful spending. We don’t want to end any spending. We don’t want any controls over spending. We want to continue the status quo. But we should not be complicit with them.
We have allowed this to go on for too long. It threatens the very heart of the republic. It threatens our very foundations to continue to borrow $1 million a minute. It’s time that we stood up. It is time that we took a stand and said enough is enough. When’s the last time we did it in the appropriate fashion? When is the last time Congress passed each of the individual appropriations bills with instructions on how to spend the money? It was 2005, a decade ago. It’s been a decade.
In the last decade we’ve added nearly $10 trillion in new debt. Many it’s time to take a stand. I for one have had enough. I’ve had enough. I’m not going to vote for a continuing resolution. A continuing resolution is simply a continuation of the mounting debt. I for one will not do it. A continuing resolution is retreat. It is announcing your defeat in advance. What we should do is take a stand. We should say to the other side in the Senate it requires a supermajority.
What does that mean? 60 votes to pass spending. What would happen? You would have spending that is controversial, like Planned Parenthood, would fall away. They can ask for private donations. Good luck on that. You wouldn’t find things being funded that are controversial. What would happen is there would no longer be spending for wasteful and duplicative projects. We listed these a couple of years ago. I think we had $7 billion worth of duplication. Did we fix it? No. Every year the President, even this President puts forward $10 billion, $15 billion, and $20 billion worth of programs that could be eliminated. Do they get eliminated? No, because Congress is dysfunctional and we continue to pass a continuing resolution, which means we do not to exert the power of the purse.
Congress is a shadow of what it once was. Madison said that we would have coequal branches and that we would pit ambition against ambition. We no longer do that. Congress is a withering shadow. It’s a shadow of what it once was. Congress has no power, exerts no power, and we walk and we live in the shadow of a presidency that is growing larger and larger and larger.
The President’s not afraid. He says he’s got his pen and his phone. So he is writing and creating law. One of the philosophers they look to is Montesquieu, and Montesquieu said when the Executive begins to legislate, a form of tyranny will ensue. That’s what we’ve got now. We have Executive tyranny. Not just this President, though. It’s been going on for a while. Probably for 100 years we’ve been allowing more and more power to accumulate in the hands of the presidency.
What we need is a bipartisan taking back of that power. We need Congress to stand up on its own two feet and say enough is enough. We are reclaiming the power of the purse and we are going to do whatever is necessary to get rid of the wasteful spending, the duplicative spending, and the offensive spending. And we are going to do what the American people want, and that is to spend only what comes in.
But I will tell you, I for one will oppose this continuing resolution, and I recommend that everybody in America call their Congressman and say we’re tired of the mounting debt. We want you to stand up. We want you to stand up and say enough is enough. Let the funding expire and make the other side come up with 60 votes to spend the money. It’s time we took a stand. I hope we will. Thank you, Mr. President.