In a move that is sure to endear him to social conservatives (and irritate liberals of all stripes), Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has refused to allow votes on a bill that reauthorizes (and funds) FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program. And no, it is not only because Senator Paul shares his father Ron Paul's draconian approach to spending.
Paul the younger is doing this because he wants to get a vote on a bill of his own -- one that no liberal will ever want to face. Talking Points Memo reports:
But the Senate may not be able to clear its entire near-term agenda before the Independence day recess because Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) won’t allow a measure extending the FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program for five years to move forward until he gets a vote on legislation declaring that human life begins at conception.
“Just trying to get a vote for the people who elected me,” Paul told TPM in the Capitol Tuesday evening. “If he’ll give me a free-standing vote, I’ll take a free-standing vote anytime. He hasn’t been really forthcoming with offering a free-standing vote on it.”
The current NFIP authorization expires at the end of July, right in the middle of hurricane season. And though it’s feasible that the Senate could put a long-term extension to bed well before then, Reid says he won’t let Paul link his “personhood” amendment to a disaster insurance.
This puts Democrats in a pickle, because Paul is obviously not going to budge, and his simple argument that he just wants a vote will carry a lot of weight among people with an elementary sense of fairness. The fact that Democrats don't want to be on the record voting against the idea that life begins at conception also speaks volumes about whether their conception of human life stacks up with that entertained by most Americans.
Nevertheless, this is Congress we are talking about. Some sort of middle ground that satisfies precisely no one and lowers their approval ratings will probably be reached.