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Rand Paul abruptly leaves committee meeting when Dem chair plays 'legislative prank on the American public'

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) abruptly left a committee meeting on Wednesday after the Democratic chairman took steps to undermine the committee's Republican members.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee was meeting for committee markup on the Fire Grants and Safety Act, a bill that would provide increased federal support for fire departments. But the meeting became tense when Chairman Gary Peters (D) used procedural tactics against Paul and the amendments he had introduced.

One of those amendments would make fire departments ineligible for federal money if they terminated employees for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine. They would become eligible, however, if they reinstated such individuals and awarded them back pay.

But Peters essentially canceled the effect of Paul's amendment "by substituting language requiring the comptroller general of the United States to conduct an audit and report on barriers that prevent fire departments from accessing funds," The Hill reported.

That was the final straw for Paul.

He accused Peters of playing a "legislative prank on the American public" by repeatedly countering his amendments with second-degree amendments, which are amendments to amendments. Paul said Peters was doing this to prevent Democrats from having to "vote directly on a vaccine amendment."

Rand Paul Threatens Gary Peters With Walkout, Causing Sinema To Call To 'Lower The Temperature'www.youtube.com

The two senators then argued over parliamentary procedures and whether Paul could offer a second-degree amendment and whether Peters' amendment was actually a third-degree amendment.

"If this is the way you're going to run the committee, I would suggest that Republicans leave," Paul finally said. "I don't see why we should stick around if you're going to make up the rule. I mean, you're going to offer a third-degree amendment?!"

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) intervened by encouraging the lawmakers to cool their tempers, but Paul made clear that Peters was leading unfairly.

"This is the first time we've had a hearing since I've been here that I know of where we've had second-degree amendments on every one of our amendments to avoid voting on the amendment. So we have simply done the same thing," Paul explained. "It was offered from this microphone. I was recognized to offer it, and now they're going back on it and trying to change the rules."

"I, for one, won't stay here," Paul declared, "if we're going to have a third-degree amendment that only the majority gets to offer."

And with that, Paul left.

The committee eventually adopted Peters' version of the amendment; all Democrats voted for it, while not a single Republican supported it.

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