At a press conference this afternoon about the ongoing budget process in the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced that he told President Donald Trump today that he, Paul, "wants to be supportive, wants to be a 'yes' vote" but that he also wants the Senate to "obey its own rules" regarding spending limits before he does so. He credited Trump with helping get Paul to vote to let the debate on the budget proceed, which barely passed today, 50-47. (For background on the budget battle, see Matt Welch's post from earlier today.)
Paul is frustrated, he says, that "Republican leadership tells us the budget means nothing, it's just a piece of paper" and that it's "only a vehicle to repeal Obamacare, or to cut taxes." Paul specifically called out GOP colleagues John McCain of Arizona and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina for being "not fiscally conservative" and wanting essentially unlimited spending.
He specified entitlement reform as an area where vague discussions of $96 billion in cuts are in the budget with "no instructions on how it is to be done" and "no bill in any committee" actually offering any real legal process for reform.
"My question" to his colleagues, Paul says, is: "Are people serious or are they all hypocrites?" Paul detects "no mechanism, no will" for actual spending cuts moving forward.
He singled out the Overseas Contingency Operations fund as a way for Republicans to continue "dishonestly saying they are adhering to budget caps" while actually spending as much on the military as they like; Paul would like to squash as much as $43 billion in extra spending concealed in that fund. He alluded to colleagues who in the past have at least been annoyed at that gimmick to get around spending caps, but he admits he doesn't know of any mad enough about it to join him in voting against the budget over it.