Rand Paul's $190 Billion Defense Spending Boost Blocked By Senate

| by Kathryn Schroeder
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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is no longer pledging to cut defense spending; in fact, he introduced a budget amendment calling for a nearly $190 billion increase to the defense budget over the next two years on Wednesday.

The additional amount requested by Paul equals a roughly 16 percent increase in defense spending overall, reports TIME.

To offset the spending, Paul calls for substantial cuts to U.S. foreign aid, the Environmental Protection Agency, and departments of Education, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, for a total of $212 billion over two years.

Paul reportedly introduced the amendment to increase defense spending in order to appease Republican defense hawks who could hinder his desired run for the White House in 2016.

Paul’s senior advisor, Doug Stafford, said it was a way to increase defense funding by showing how it will be done.

"It is done in response to others in both chambers who are attempting to add to defense spending -- some way more than Senator Paul's amendment -- without paying for it," Stafford explained. "This amendment is to lay down a marker that if you believe we need more funding for national defense, you should show how you would pay for it. No one should be seeking increased funding for anything by increasing our debt."

Paul filed the amendment the same day as House Republicans supported a plan to change their budget to give billions more to the Pentagon.

The new Paul plan is very different from the one he introduced in 2011 after just five months in office. He proposed then to eliminate four agencies—Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, and Education—while cutting Pentagon funding. This proposal would have decreased defense spending from $553 billion in the 2011 fiscal year to $542 billion in 2016. War funding would have decreased from $159 billion to a staggering zero.

Paul referred to his old plan as the “draw-down and restructuring of the Department of Defense.”

The new view for Paul on defense spending is not a surprise as he has been vocal about national defense being a “priority” of his recently.

“Without question, we must now defend ourselves and American interests,” Paul said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February in regards to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

“For me, the priority is always national defense,” Paul added when asked about federal spending.

Over the past few months, Paul has also changed his tune and become more favorable towards becoming a foreign policy hawk. While Paul was often called an isolationist for his previous critiques of defense and foreign aid spending, he now seems to have become a more active participant in the foreign policy debate. He was one of the senators who signed the controversial letter to the leaders of Iran, has endorsed carving out a new state in the Middle east for afflicted Kurds in Iraq and Syria, and has supported expanded military operations against Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, including an endorsement of ground troops.

Paul’s amendment was voted down on Thursday by a vote of 4-96. Three of his potential rivals for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination voted against the amendment—Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Ted Crux of Texas.

"All I can say is that Marco, I trust his judgment on national security matters," Graham told The Huffington Post. "Rand Paul, not so much. Rand Paul is playing catch up. Look at his original budget. All I can say is that nobody is gonna be fooled by this."

It is expected that Paul will introduce his candidacy for president next month, and campaign in front of an aircraft carrier.

Sources: TIME, Huffington Post

Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons, outsidethebeltway.com