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Rand Paul walks out of hearing as Kyrsten Sinema pleads not to turn Senate into ‘partisan, ugly place’

Rand Paul walks out of hearing as Kyrsten Sinema pleads not to turn Senate into ‘partisan, ugly place’

It got heated at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing when Kentucky’s Rand Paul walked out on an arcane procedural disagreement while Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema tried to cool things down.

“I’m asking for a recorded vote,” said ranking member Paul.

“I also have a second-degree amendment, and I recognize myself as offering a second-degree amendment,” replied committee chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). “My second degree amendment would direct . . .”

“Point of inquiry. Point of inquiry,” interrupted Paul.

“—GAO to issue audit of US Fire Administration—” Peters continued.

“Question point,” Paul repeated.

“—Three years of enactment to continue to improve—” Peters continued.

“Question point,” Paul insisted.

“Yeah, go ahead,” Peters replied.

“We have, what, unlimited second degree amendments?” Paul asked.

“We have a second degree amendment, I’ve recognized myself for my second degree amendment,” Peters said.

“Your second degree amendment to a second degree amendment?” Paul asked.

“No, it’s a second-degree amendment offered in the Scott Amendment,” Peters replied.

“No, I…I already asked for a second degree amendment to the Scott amendment,” Paul commented.

“You can’t call it, Senator,” Peters replied. “Only the chair can call it.”

“Well, I was recognized as invoking it the same way we’ve recognized for all the other amendments,” Paul replied. “You recognized me and I called him.”

“You were credited with calling it for a vote,” objected Peters. “I’ll do it, only a chair can do it.”

“If that’s the way you’re going to run the committee, I’d suggest the Republicans go. I don’t see why we should stay if you’re going to make up the rules,” Paul said heatedly at one point.

The procedural argument became increasingly hostile, and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) tried to calm the senators down.

“There’s no need for this to turn into a situation where people walk out,” Sinema pleaded. “Now, we can just ask people who can tell us the rules, and then we’ll follow them…”

“Who do we ask?” Paul asked. “Just the majority staff?”

“Let’s consult the people,” Sinema said, pointing toward the chamber. “I mean, the rules are written. We can follow them. I don’t think we need to escalate this to become a spectacle.”

But that is exactly what Paul did. He gathered his things and left.

What was the argument about? Peters used procedural tactics to prevent committee Democrats from voting on Republican amendments to the Fire Safety and Appropriations Act.

According to Senator Peters’ official website, “The Fire Safety and Appropriations Act reauthorizes SAFER, AFG, and USFA through 2030. Authorizes $95 million for USFA, an increase of nearly $20 million over levels current, and maintains funding levels currently authorized for the USFA SAFER and AFG programs.”

As The Hill reported, “Paul offered an amendment to make any fire department that fires firefighters for refusing a COVID-19 vaccine or for speaking out against the mandate ineligible for federal grants. According to the Paul’s proposal, fire departments that fired employees for refusing vaccinations could be eligible for federal money by offering those people reinstatement and back pay.

Peters offered second-grade amendments to the Republican-sponsored amendments that removed their content entirely.

As Paul left the room, Sinema urged the senators to “take a couple of minutes, bring the temperature down, just figure out the procedure.”

“We don’t need to turn this committee hearing into a partisan, ugly place like we’ve seen in other committees,” he added.

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