Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) left a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security committee this week in protest of a disagreement over amendments to a firefighting grant. In particular, Paul protested grant funding for fire departments that fired unvaccinated employees.
The senator left the committee meeting in protest this week following committee chair Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) blocking Paul’s efforts to block amendments to the Fire Grants and Safety Act.
Paul is the ranking member of the committee and sought to introduce a number of amendments to the bill, which were rejected by Peters. As chair, Peters said that he had the authority to reject each of the Republican-proposed amendments.
The Kentucky Republican introduced an amendment that would have restricted funding for fire departments that fired their members for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine or for disagreements regarding compulsory vaccination. Paul’s amendment would have allowed these grant funds if the fire departments rehired the fired firefighters.
Watch Dems stymie my amendment to forbid grants to fire departments that fired the unvaxxed. pic.twitter.com/2e0Kg1lk77
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) March 16, 2023
Paul also offered another amendment that would have blocked funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to China for what is commonly referred to as gain of function research. Many conservatives believe that such research played a role in the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Paul called on the Republican members of the committee to leave the hearing, but Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and James Lankford (R-OK) remained. Lankford protested, stating that “we have a vote and not replace someone’s vote. We got to actually take votes.”
Peters stated after the hearing that he “look[s] forward” to working with Paul and that “hopefully we can find common ground to go forward.” Peters added his opinion that some of Paul’s proposed amendments were “not germane to the substance of the bill.”
Some, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) sought to defuse the situation in the hearing.
The proposed act would increase federal spending by nearly $500 million, which Paul called “not an inconsequential amount of money.”
Paul, the son of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is often perceived as one of the most libertarian-leaning members of the house and has consistently argued against mandates related to COVID-19.