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Senate vote on 9/11 victim fund bill stymied by Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul said he would offer an amendment if the bill comes to the floor. Until then, he said, “I will object.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on June 27.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on June 27. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday sought Senate approval of a bill for the funding and extension of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, but her bid for a quick vote was blocked by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

As some first responders watched from the gallery, Gillibrand, the New York Democrat and main sponsor of the legislation, rose and requested that the bill be considered passed by the Senate without objection.

But Paul objected.

“It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country. We have a $22 trillion debt. We're adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year,” Paul said.

“Therefore, any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that will have the longevity of 70, 80 years should be offset by cutting spending that's less valuable," Paul said. "We need at the very least to have this debate.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the first 10 years of the 70-year extension would cost $10.2 billion for the cash grants made to residents or workers in the lower Manhattan area affected by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Paul said he would offer an amendment if the bill comes to the floor. Until then, he said, “I will object.”

Gillibrand expressed disappointment.

“I’m deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders. A bipartisan bill that just earned over 400 votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and has 73 co-sponsors in this chamber,” she said. The House passed the bill 402-12.

“Enough of the political games,” she added.

Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.) then asked Paul to withdraw his objection — but he did not. And Schumer urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to hold an immediate vote on the bill — but he did not, either.

McConnell last month said the Senate would take up the bill before the summer recess, which begins Aug. 3.

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