Rand Paul blocks funding bill for 9/11 victims over hypocritical budget concerns

Zack Ford Editor, Think Progress LGBT

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked an attempt by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Wednesday to fast-track a bill that would extend compensation for victims of the September 11th attacks.

Paul expressed concerns that Gillibrand’s attempt to pass the measure using unanimous consent — meaning a bill is approved so long as no senator objects — did not take into consideration the need to offset that funding elsewhere.

In short, he argued, funding shouldn’t be distributed to 9/11 first responders without a discussion about where the money was coming from — concerns that didn’t stop him from voting for President Donald Trump’s massive tax cuts for the rich back in 2017.

“It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country,” Paul said in voicing his objection on Wednesday. “Any new spending that we are approaching — any new program that’s going to have the longevity of 70, 80 years — should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable. We need to at the very least have this debate.”

He promised to add an amendment when the House version of the bill was brought up for a vote. But Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) also placed a procedural hold on the bill, blocking it from coming up for a vote.

Gillibrand noted in response that, not only had the bill passed the House by “over 400 votes,” it already had 73 co-sponsors in the Senate.

The measure was guaranteed to pass, she said, adding, “Enough of the political games.”

Back in 2017, Paul supported Trump’s tax bill, which cut taxes drastically for the ultra-wealthy and mega-corporations.

At the time, Paul did voice some reservations, such as his preference for an even bigger tax cut, but eventually agreed to the final version, which has since massively exploded the deficit.

Those tax cuts have had an even bigger impact than analysts expected initially: The deficit ballooned from $225 billion in 2017 to $319 billion in 2018.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) openly admitted after the tax cuts passed that having less money in government coffers would provide Republican leadership with leeway to slash social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps.

***

Reposted from ThinkProgress

Zack Ford is the editor of ThinkProgress LGBT at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, hailing from the small town of Newport, PA. Prior to joining ThinkProgress, Zack blogged for two years at ZackFordBlogs.com with occasional cross-posts at Pam’s House Blend. He also co-hosts a popular LGBT-issues podcast called Queer and Queerer with activist and performance artist Peterson Toscano. A graduate of Ithaca College (B.M. Music Education) and Iowa State University (M.Ed. Higher Education), Zack is an accomplished pianist with a passion for social justice education. Follow him on Twitter at @ZackFord.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work