Speed Reads

Nevertheless He Persisted

Here's why Rand Paul says he shut down the federal government

The U.S. federal government partially shut down at midnight, and the proximate cause is Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who refused to give consent Thursday night to vote on the massive spending bill worked out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Paul's stated concern was the federal deficit — which, he pointed out, was the Republican Party's stated concern until about a year ago. "How come you were against President Obama's deficits, and then how come you're for Republican deficits? Isn't that the very definition of intellectual dishonesty?" he asked his colleagues. "Isn't that the very definition of hypocrisy?"

Paul, who voted in favor of the GOP's $1.5 trillion tax cut two months ago, wasn't done. Amid glares from a "visibly irritated" McConnell, The Washington Post reports, Paul said "this new stimulus of deficit spending will be as big as President Obama's stimulus," passed during the height of the Great Recession. "Don't you remember when Republicans howled to high heaven that President Obama was spending us into the gutter, spending us into oblivion?" he asked. "And now Republicans are doing the same thing."

The Senate is expected to pass the spending bill early Friday morning, but its fate in the House is less clear. GOP deficit hawks are in more or less open revolt, and Democrats are threatening to withhold their support unless House Speaker Paul Ryan promises to hold a vote on a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program. The two-year spending bill also suspends the debt limit for a year, adds $90 billion for disaster relief, extends $17 billion in business tax breaks, and renews several large health-care programs, paying for some of the spending by selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and other revenue offsets.