“That amendment alone is enough to make me object to it, as well as the amount of spending,” he said.
Paul said he would drop his objection if GOP leaders allowed a final vote on the National Defense Authorization Act on Monday, which would require the Senate to go through the procedural motions. But Republicans are eager to finish work on it this week, in addition to a one-week government funding bill to avoid a shutdown.
“It’s really just a function at this point of letting the clock run and seeing if we can get cooperation. Some of it’s our side, some of it’s their side,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). “If people come together we could probably wrap a couple of things up this week and then work on the big stuff — the spending bill and COVID package — next week.”
The bill, which Trump has threatened to veto, passed on a veto-proof majority in the House earlier this week and is expected to win similar support in the Senate, though some Republicans may ultimately side with the president on a veto-override question.
“They believe that a president has the power to go to war anywhere anytime,” Paul said on the Senate floor of the bill’s backers. “But when a president tries to remove troops, they say ‘Oh no no. What we really want are 535 generals in Congress to tell him he can’t leave a war.’
“How absurd is that?” Paul asked.
On the floor Thursday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hinted the Senate could be in for a late night of debate on the must-pass bill.
“For the information of all senators, we should expect the potential for a late night tonight and the possibility of votes tomorrow,” McConnell said.
Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) lamented on Thursday that some senators always try to “benefit” from must-pass legislation, but he declined to single out Paul.
Unless senators can agree to speed up the consideration of the bill, a procedural vote will happen an hour after the Senate convenes on Friday. McConnell filed cloture, a procedural motion to end debate on the bill, on Wednesday.
Trump has threatened to veto the bill because lawmakers didn’t include an unrelated repeal of legal protections for social media companies and because the final bill would force the Pentagon to remove the names of Confederate leaders from military bases.
The White House has also staunchly opposed provisions that hinder Trump from drawing down troops from Afghanistan and Europe.
Read More News: Rand Paul holds up defense bill