Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Thursday night, during his marathon speech that would ultimately lead to another brief government shutdown, that he didn't come to Washington “to be liked.” Well, mission accomplished.
In reaction to Paul's speech, which pushed debate on a two-year bipartisan spending bill well past the 12 a.m. shutdown deadline, both Democrats and Republicans have cast blame onto the self-described libertarian conservative for the second government shutdown in just a few weeks.
“It's a colossal waste of time,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters. “He never gets a result.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) also didn't hold back his criticism of Paul's tactics. “It's just grossly irresponsible,” said Cornyn, the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate. “Why reward bad behavior?”
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) took the opportunity to jab at her Republican colleague, saying, “To me, it looked like he was clueless. I didn’t see any purpose.”
In response to the backlash surrounding the speech, the senator's communications director Sergio Gor told IJR: “Senator Paul will always stand up for what is right, regardless of which party is in control.”
Gor added that Paul's speech accomplished its goal: “He successfully brought much-needed attention to the hypocrisy in the halls of Congress when it comes to out-of-control spending.”
But Paul argued Republicans who were backing the two-year budget deal, which jacks up spending by $300 billion over two years, were turning their backs on their conservative roots, as many took similar stands when Democrats were in control of the House and Senate.
“When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party. But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party,” Paul said during his marathon speech.
The senator was calling for the budget bill to be opened for an amendment. However, Senate leaders worried that if Paul was able to introduce an amendment other senators would make a similar demand, and with the government shutdown looming, a full-blown amendment process seemed out of the question.
“Tonight, you could feel the frustration and embarrassment growing in Congress as we exposed the hypocrisy of Republicans who are joining in an unholy alliance and spending free-for-all with Democrats at the expense of the American people and our party’s supposed principles,” Paul tweeted Friday night.
"Make no mistake, I will always stand up for fiscal responsibility, regardless of which party is in power, and I will continue to call the Republican Party home to the ideas that led to Americans trusting us with government in the first place,” he added.