Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) staged a walkout from the Senate Homeland Security Committee during the markup of the Fire Grants and Safety Act following a heated exchange with committee chair Gary Peters (D-Mich.).
“If this is the way you’re going to run the committee, I would suggest that Republicans leave. I don’t see why we should stick around if you’re going to make up the rules,” Paul said to Peters.
Paul expressed his frustration with Peters’ use of procedural maneuvers to effectively prevent Democrats on the committee from voting on Republican changes to the Fire Funding and Safety Act.
Peters proposed second-degree amendments to the Republican-sponsored amendments, essentially removing their content.
Under Paul’s proposal, fire departments that sacked employees for refusing vaccinations would be eligible for federal funds if they reinstated and back paid those individuals.
Peters, however, nullified Paul’s proposal by adding wording requiring the United States comptroller general to undertake an audit and report on obstacles preventing fire departments from getting funding.
The updated amendment was approved on a party-line vote, with all Democrats present voting in favor and all Republicans voting against.
As tensions rose, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) attempted to calm the combative lawmakers, asserting that their committee had no cause to move toward an unfriendly environment.
“There’s no need for us to turn this committee hearing into a partisan, ugly place like we’ve seen in other committees,” she said.
Paul pushed back at Peters saying, “This is the first time we’ve had a hearing since I’ve been here … that we’ve gotten second-degree amendments on every one of our amendments.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Paul objected at one point, as Peters continued to alter his amendments. “This is legislative legerdemain to obscure the fact that you’re trying to not vote directly on this.”
In the end, Paul did leave, while Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) remained and voted against Peters’s modifications, which were ultimately passed when the bill was voted out of committee.
Paul became the ranking member of the committee after moderate former Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) retired last term.
“The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s mission of oversight and investigations is critical to Congress reasserting itself and as Ranking Member, I look forward to continuing the storied history of this committee’s leadership in consequential bipartisan oversight and investigations,” Paul said when announcing his new position.
“Given the committee’s duty to conduct oversight over the entire government, I remain hopeful that we will pursue robust and bipartisan investigations into government censorship and the origins of COVID.”