Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is planning a Senate filibuster next week in an attempt to force debt ceiling negotiations into the open.
“We’ve had not one minute of debate about the debt ceiling in any committee,” he said in an interview with C-SPAN‘s “Newsmakers” that aired on Sunday. “We haven’t had a budget in two years. We haven’t had an appropriations bill in two years. So I’m part of the freshmen group in the Senate that’s saying, ‘no more.'”
Paul’s plan: “Next week, we will filibuster until we talk about the debt ceiling, until we talk about proposals.”
He added that a group of senators in the “conservative wing” of the Republican Party will also be presenting a proposal to tie raising the debt limit to passage of a balanced budget amendment.
“[W]e will actually vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling next week if we can, but it will be contingent on passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution,” he said, adding, “I’m not completely without the sense that we may need to raise the debt ceiling. But I will only do it if we have significant budgetary reform, and to me that means you have to balance your budget every year.”
Paul’s announcement picks up where Sen. Ron Johnson‘s (R-Wis.) one-man filibuster attempt last Tuesday left off. Johnson declared that as long as the debt ceiling negotiations are held behind closed doors, he would block all unanimous consent calls, effectively putting a stop on Senate business.
“Unless we receive some assurance from the Democrat leadership that we will actually start addressing our budget out in the open, in the bright light of day — I will begin to object,” Johnson said on the Senate floor.
Johnson’s stunt lasted a little more than two hours, eventually stopped by a procedural move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
A balanced budget amendment has wide support within the Senate GOP caucus, but it has little chance of passing because of opposition from Democrats. Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states.
The Hill has also reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s (R-Ky.) office objects to tying a raise in the debt limit to passage of a balanced budget amendment.