Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) isn’t having the best week after blocking the fast-tracking of funding for 9/11 first responders’ healthcare.
On Wednesday, Sen. Paul went viral in his blocking of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-New York) amendment to fast-track a permanent extension of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), which would have kept the fund alive for more than 70 years. Gillibrand and other Senate Democrats clarified that while they didn’t expect the funding to last for 70 years, the extension was done so in order to prevent first responders from having to come back to Washington again to ask for more funding.
Paul, along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), objected to the permanent VCF extension on the grounds that it should be offset by spending cuts made elsewhere. However, Paul’s fear over the deficit was apparently absent when he made the deciding vote for the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which costs the government $1.5 trillion in lost revenue over a decade. According to the Tax Policy Center, 83% of the benefits outlined in the tax cut legislation went primarily to the wealthy, and the bill actually ended up raising taxes on working-class Americans.
Needless to say, Paul wasn’t eager to speak to New York City media following his decision.
In a video posted by NY 1, reporter Jeevan Vittal is seen following Rand Paul, asking him about his blocking of the 9/11 first responders’ healthcare funding. As Paul and his entourage pick up the space walking down multiple flights of stairs, Vittal continues to press the Kentucky senator about why he was blocking the amendment, and if he had anything to say to 9/11 first responders (he didn’t).
After reaching the bottom of the stairs and following him into the hallway leading up to his Senate office, Sen. Paul only told Vittal that he gave an interview to Fox News, and that his viewers should watch his Fox News interview to hear his position on why he was blocking the amendment.
VITTAL: With all due respect, Senator, I’m not Fox News. Can you paraphrase really quickly?
PAUL: Well, if you’re a professional outlet, you could call and get an interview, like [Fox News] did.
VITTAL: Sir, we’ve tried multiple times.
PAUL: I don’t know who you are.
VITTAL: I’m with New York 1. Sir, what is your objection to the bill?
PAUL: If you would like to be, sort of a professional reporter–
VITTAL: –With all due respect sir, what is your objection to the 9/11 first responder bill?
PAUL: If you’ll call and get an interview, that would be a great idea.
Our @JVittalTV on Thursday questioned Kentucky Senator Rand Paul about his objection to an attempt to quickly pass a bill ensuring the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund never runs out of money. Here is video of their exchange. pic.twitter.com/Dxx3yEnGlp
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) July 18, 2019
The Senate is set to take up two amendments on extending 9/11 first responders’ healthcare benefits on Tuesday — one from Mike Lee, which caps the amount of money to be allocated, and one from Rand Paul, which would make cuts to the federal budget to offset first responders’ healthcare funding.
Currently, 75 senators (a veto-proof majority) are co-sponsoring the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victims’ Compensation Fund Act. If the Senate passes either amendment, the bill must go the House of Representatives as amended before being sent to President Trump’s desk.
(Featured image: NY 1/Fair Use)
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.