Eject > Political > Current Activity in the U.S. Congress – 9 Legislative Items Senator Rand Paul Co-Sponsored or Sponsored in the 116th Congress

Current Activity in the U.S. Congress – 9 Legislative Items Senator Rand Paul Co-Sponsored or Sponsored in the 116th Congress

Campaign finance is becoming a more and more heated issue, and since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling known only as Citizens United, along with 2017 changes in IRS rules relating to political contributions, things have only gotten more complicated. In late 2018, Senator Rand Paul, the junior (Republican) Senator from Kentucky, also added a new twist. According to a Newsweek article, the Senator “dismissed the seriousness of alleged federal campaign finance crimes committed by President Donald Trump, arguing that the laws regarding these crimes are “incredibly complicated” and the penalties should be reduced.”

He was referring to payments made to an alleged mistress of Mr. Trump, who received a “payoff” originating from campaign funds. In the article, it was noted that Senator Paul “didn’t believe such violations should be treated so harshly and should just be punished with fines.”

He went on to talk about the ever-increasing complexity of campaign finance, saying “’There are thousands and thousands of rules, it’s incredibly complicated, campaign finance,’ [and] arguing that criminal penalties are not the best way to address such violations. He said he personally thinks that the punishment ‘shouldn’t be jail time, it ought to be a fine.’”

What we can take from that is quite plain:

  • Senator Rand sees campaign finance rules as complex
  • He is not remarkably upset about officeholders having violated some of those rules during an election

A bit later, Mr. Paul also commented on Mr. Trump’s plans to construct a property in Moscow, and indicated he didn’t “’know what’s illegal about trying to build a hotel in Russia … I see no problem with someone running for president trying to build a hotel somewhere,’ he said. The senator pointed out that it would be different if the presidential candidate was offering something in exchange for approval of such a project. ‘I haven’t heard any evidence of that,’ he said.

If there is a problem with Senator Paul’s perspective on such matters, it is simply that he wants evidence of wrongdoing where campaign finance is concerned, but that is not always so easy to find. This is particularly true of what so many now describe as “dark money,” something that Senator Paul has insisted he does not accept.

Dark money can be viewed in two ways – first, it is campaign funding that comes from anonymous sources protected by IRS laws, as well as the concept behind the Citizens United. Secondly, dark money is about enormous expenditures and expenditures that are nothing like “normal” donations.

Dark money is often described as coming from the mega-rich, and something that can exert an array of pressures and influence. While many accept that influence-peddling is not a new issue in American politics, it is still relatively uncommon. It has developed alongside the rise of PACs (Political Action Committees). Found as PACs and SuperPACs, many fear they are a simple conduit for dark money and dubious campaign finance contributions.

PACs and SuperPACs differ in only a few ways. PACs can give to parties or candidates, while SuperPACs can only spend (unlimited sums) on marketing and ads. They are unlimited in the amounts they can accept, as well, and many watchdog groups have found that “spending of this kind (in which groups did not reveal their donors) climbed rapidly from five million dollars in the year 2006 to more than three hundred million dollars in 2012.” And as already indicated, they are enormous sums, making many worry about the power shift that could result and that donors are “effectively in control of American politics, writing six- and seven-figure checks to super PAC’s to support ad campaigns that confuse viewers and distort the views and records of candidates.”

And if you believe what they do is out in the open, that is hardly the case, as Mr. Paul indicated in his comments, the laws are confusing, and so any instances in which lines are crossed or questionable steps are taken can be mired in that same confusion. For example, those making donations to create influence may not make bold moves, such as lobbying directly to interfere with specific policies, but as another expert pointed out, they might use influence for “subtle things that are less top of mind, less likely to be in the news — some amendment tucked into a larger bill…[and] greater access for friendly lobbyists.”

As those who have attempted it know, it can be challenging to find all forms of influence easily, but there are groups that collect data relating to campaign finance, and often about more outspoken politicians, including Senator Paul.

For example, The Center for Public Integrity noted the following items about his campaign funding when he was making an attempt at the presidential nomination in 2015:

  • He “raised $14 million for his campaign war chest. More than 40 percent of that amount has come from small-dollar donors”
  • He “called the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act “a blatant violation of the First Amendment.”
  • He once called lobbyists a “distinctly criminal class” whose “sole goal was to rip you off.”
  • “Among the companies whose lobbyists have donated to Rand Paul since he was elected: Amgen, Google and Koch Industries”
  • “Rand Paul proposed that government contractors be barred from lobbying and making campaign contributions”

Those are mixed messages, and so it pays to do a more in-depth assessment of him. To do that we are going to look at a few additional sets of information in our evaluation. They are:

  • The Senator’s publicly stated priorities and issues
  • Senator Paul’s committee and caucus activities
  • The Senator’s key sources of campaign funding
  • Senator Paul’s most recent legislative items sponsored or co-sponsored

We are also going to examine other data, including bipartisanship ratings, conservative rankings, and more, to reach conclusions.

For example, Senator Paul rates in the middle of the popular Republican in the Lugar Center Bipartisanship Index, holding the 55th place. What this means is simple: legislation he creates enjoys some support from Democrats, and he supports around the same number of their legislative items. HisTrump Score” from FiveThirtyEight for the 116th Congress is down from the previous Congress, and hovers at 53%, meaning that he supports President Trump’s policies infrequently. The Conservative Review, however, approves highly of the Senator, giving him a numeric Liberty Score of 92% and a letter grade of “A.” His approval ratings in the Senate are relatively low, with a rank of 87th out of 100 senators and a net approval of 36 from his party.

About Senator John Paul

Born in 1963 in Pennsylvania, he is the son of a politician and former presidential candidate. Raised a libertarian, he has spent most of his life around politicians. His father was in the House of Representatives and Paul himself often interned. He studied economics and then attended Baylor University and moved on to Duke University’s School of Medicine. He obtained an MD and is a licensed ophthalmologist. Even as he received certifications and practiced this trade, though, he remained politically active, managing his father’s political campaigns, authoring books, and participating in many political activities.

In 2009, he decided to make a go at a Senate seat, and by 2010 he was in full campaign mode with a tremendous amount of support. He won the election and repeated that performance for his second term that ends in 2023.

At his official website, he identifies key issues to his constituency as:

  • Advocating for Sanctity of Life
  • Advancing Energy Security
  • Balancing Our Nation’s Budget
  • Expanding Economic Opportunity
  • Fixing a Broken Justice System
  • Promoting Opportunity Through Education
  • Protecting Gun Rights
  • Protecting Privacy and Civil Liberties
  • Putting Patients First
  • Reforming Washington Through Term Limits
  • Reversing Burdensome Regulations
  • Securing our Nation
  • Supporting our Nation’s Heroes

The journalist group ProPublica makes a point of monitoring politicians and how they vote, the most common subjects of bills they sponsor and even what issues are the most common in their press releases. They have identified that Senator Paul focuses on the following items in his legislation:

  • International Affairs
  • Economics and Public Finance
  • Environmental Protection
  • Immigration
  • Crime and Law Enforcement

The press releases around his policy priorities overlap nicely, and in ranking order emphasize:

  • Economics and Public Finance
  • International Affairs
  • Health
  • Crime and Law Enforcement

With these details, we start to get an idea of his focus and his efforts, but it is not enough to determine any undue influence. For that, we need to examine his committee work, donors, and legislative activities.

Senator Paul’s Committee Work

For the 116th Congress, Senator Paul is assigned to the following committees and subcommittees:

  • Committee on Foreign Relations
    • Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation
    • Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy
    • Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism
    • Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development
  • Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    • Subcommittee on Children and Families (Chairman)
    • Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety
    • Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    • Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
    • Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management (Chairman)
  • Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

There are obvious overlaps and some less visible areas of activity on the senator’s part. Taking a look at his key contributors is the next way to uncover undue influence.

The Top Industries Funding Senator Paul Campaign Efforts

In 2016, Senator Paul’s campaign raised $12,149,234.00 and spent $12,137,474.00, leaving no debt. This support came from an array of industries, and we’ll look at those contributors in three distinct groupings:

  • The industries in which the Senator was a “favorite,” or top recipient in the last campaign cycle (2016)
  • The industries that contributed the most substantial amount of financial support
  • Individual organizations that donated the most

According to the Open Secrets Website, Senator Paul was an industry favorite in two segments:

  • Student loan companies (#3)
  • Waste Management (#3)

He was also the recipient backing from other industries, and the 20 sectors that gave the most, overall, in 2016 were (in ranking order):

  1. Retired
  2. Health Professionals
  3. Republican/Conservative
  4. Securities & Investment
  5. Real Estate
  6. Leadership PACs
  7. Lawyers/Law Firms
  8. Miscellaneous Finance
  9. Mining
  10. Insurance
  11. Gun Rights
  12. Miscellaneous Manufacturing & Distributing
  13. Electronics Manufacturing & Equipment
  14. Automotive
  15. Food & Beverage
  16. Miscellaneous Business
  17. Oil & Gas
  18. Business Services
  19. Lobbyists
  20. Crop Production & Basic Processing

Finally, there were the companies and other groups that gave, individually, the most rather than by industry. None of them donated directly to the campaign, instead, they worked with PACs or had direct employee contributions for the 2016 election, and were:

  • Club for Growth – A “national network of over 250,000 pro-growth, limited government Americans who share in the belief that prosperity and opportunity come from economic freedom”
  • Wexford Capital – An “investment advisor which boasts $6.5 billion of assets under management. According to its website, it manages a series of hedge and private equity funds. It is based on Greenwich, CT.”
  • Mason Capital Management – “A large advisory firm with 3 clients and discretionary assets under management (AUM) of $2,900,149,021”
  • Brown-Forman Corp – “One of the largest American-owned companies in the spirits and wine business. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, it manufactures several well known brands throughout the world, including Jack Daniel’s, Early Times, Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Mist, GlenDronach, BenRiach, Glenglassaugh, Finlandia, Herradura, Korbel, and Chambord (liqueur). Brown–Forman formerly owned Southern Comfort and Tuaca before selling them off in 2016.”
  • Charah Inc–A “leading provider of mission-critical environmental and maintenance services to the power generation industry”
  • Huffines Communities – A “residential real estate development company established by Donald and Phillip Huffines to create first-class communities that provide an exceptional lifestyle”
  • G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers–“Manufactures and distributes plastic containers. The Company offers packaging solutions to the beverage industry”
  • TAMKO Building Products – A “building materials company based in Joplin, Missouri. The company’s products include Heritage shingles and composite decking”
  • Boich Companies–“Currently has a significant real estate portfolio with assets throughout the U.S., including multi-family, hotels, commercial and developments. We also invest in a wide range of businesses from emerging energy services, specialty financing services, telecommunications and culinary services”
  • Jennmar Corp – “Develops and manufactures ground control products. The Company provides roof support and rock reinforcement, standing support, surface and skin support, resin and pumpable cement products, and accessories. Jennmar serves customers worldwide.”

Senator Paul does not have many in-state backers, but that is not an indicator of anything significant. We already learned that the bulk of donors were smaller donors, and that makes it easier to find overlap between significant donors and legislation that may benefit them, which is what we will now consider.

9 Items Senator Paul Has Sponsored During the 116th Congress – To Date

For the 116th Congress, to date, Senator Paul has 139 pieces of legislation; he sponsored 52 thus far and co-sponsored the remaining 87. The Senator’s official Congressional page indicates that his emphasis in this Congress has been primarily on international affairs, economics and public finance, environmental protection, immigration, and crime.

S.92 —Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2019

Reintroduced on January 10, and with backing from more than 40 cosponsors, this bill would “increase accountability and transparency in the federal regulatory process,” according to a press release from Senator Paul’s office. It explains that, if passed into law, it would “rein in unelected federal bureaucrats by requiring that Congress affirmatively approve every new “major rule” proposed by the Executive Branch before it can be enforced on the American people, as opposed to the status quo, where regulations ultimately take effect unless Congress specifically disapproves.”

A ”major rule” under current federal law is “one that the Office of Management and Budget determines may result in an economic impact of $100 million or greater each year; ‘a major increase in costs or prices’ for American consumers, government agencies, regions, or industries; or ‘significant adverse effects’ on the economy.

By passing the REINS Act, the American people – through their elected officials – will once again have the final say on whether or not such rules are the right course for our future.”

When speaking about it to Congress, Senator Paul explained, “Last Congress, we made tremendous progress on relieving the burdens placed on the American people by unelected bureaucrats, but much more remains to be done. Passing the REINS Act would reassert Congress’ legislative authority and help us further reduce unnecessary, overreaching government interference in Americans’ everyday lives.”

The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

S.147 —Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2019

Reintroduced on January 16, this bill aims to “incentivize Congress to properly consider and debate spending legislation,” according to a news release about it. “Instead of government shutting down operations over stalled funding in the future,” it continues, “Dr. Paul’s plan would keep government open but institute a one-percent cut to then-current funding levels for any agency, program, and activity that Congress failed to fund by the start of the fiscal year (October 1). Funding would be reduced by another one percent every 90 days thereafter that an agreement is still not enacted.”

At the time the legislation was introduced, “Congress does not face any consequences for failing to pass appropriations bills on time, which has helped lead to it pursuing procrastination over prudence and risking shutdowns due to impasses.”

When speaking about the need for the bill before Congress, Senator Paul said, “No matter where one stands on the debate over government spending, we should all be able to agree that Congress needs to handle Americans’ money thoughtfully and hit its deadlines. The Government Shutdown Prevention Act would take a major step forward toward bringing basic fiscal responsibility to Capitol Hill.”

The news release also indicated that “Dr. Paul’s proposal would give agencies the certainty of knowing that, in a worst-case scenario, they will always be able to operate with a full year of funding at no less than 96 percent of their then-current levels.”

It was read twice and referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

S.376 —Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2019

Reintroduced on February 7, the bill seeks to “restore common sense to federal water policy by redefining ‘navigable waters,’ excluding ephemeral or intermittent streams from federal jurisdiction, and restraining the power the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers hold over American landowners.”

According to a press release from Senator Rand’s office, this legislation is a direct response and “statutory fix to protect Americans from President Obama’s overreaching 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The 2015 rule significantly expanded the definition of waters in the U.S. to include non-navigable waters, certain dry land, drains, ditches, small ponds, and even depressions in fields that are only wet after heavy rains.”

Explaining the need for the bill, Senator Paul, “While some would have us believe we can only protect the environment by giving the federal government more control over Americans’ lives, my bill shows we can act while still respecting Americans’ private property rights and the Constitution’s limits on federal power.”

It will achieve its goals by implementing the following requirements:

  • “Defines “navigable waters” as “navigable-in-fact, or permanent, standing, or continuously flowing bodies of water that form geographical features commonly known as streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes that are connected to waters that are navigable-in-fact”;
  • Clarifies the jurisdiction of the EPA and Corps of Engineers;
  • States that “ground water” is State water and not to be considered in asserting Federal jurisdiction;
  • Prohibits the use of a “significant nexus test”; and
  • Prohibits the EPA and Corps of Engineers from creating new rules defining “navigable waters” or expanding or interpreting the definition of “navigable waters” unless expressly authorized by Congress.”

With three cosponsors, it was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

S.525 —National Right-to-Work Act

Reintroduced on February 14, and with 20 cosponsors, this bill seeks to “preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations or to refrain from such activities.”

It would do this by repealing “five provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – which governs private sector employees – and one in the Railway Labor Act (RLA) – which governs airline and railroad employees – that authorize the firing of workers for the refusal to pay union dues.

Dr. Paul’s legislation would not stop employees from joining a union or maintaining their current union membership. In its 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision, the Supreme Court ruled that non-union public-sector employees do not have to pay fees to a union.”

Speaking of the need for the legislation, Senator Paul said, “The National Right to Work Act stands up for all American workers by ensuring their ability to choose to refrain from joining or paying dues to a union as a condition for employment. It respects their fundamental right to freedom of association, and it is time for the federal government to follow the lead of Kentucky and other states by passing Right to Work.”

It was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

S.581 —Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2019

Introduced on February 27, this bill seeks to “remove burdensome regulations on domestic energy production,” according to a press release from Senator Paul’s office.

The news release went on to explain that “Government intervention in the energy sector impacts everything from fuel sales to how fuels are taxed, inevitably driving up costs and holding back new technologies. As a result, Washington has unnecessarily limited consumer choice and constrained the wider availability of new fuel options.”

This legislation further reduces those regulatory burdens “blocking higher ethanol blends, such as E15, from entering the marketplace, and would also allow Americans to convert their vehicle to run on different fuels without jumping through expensive and unnecessary Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hoops. Furthermore, it would reform fuel economy rules that are hampering clean technology innovation in the auto industry.”

It would do this specifically by:

Removing “overly burdensome EPA certifications on aftermarket vehicle conversions.

  • Fleet turnover rates for American light-duty vehicles have varied widely over the years. Removing EPA regulations that unnecessarily increase the cost of aftermarket vehicle conversions will allow for accelerated market integration of vehicles that are capable of running on alternative fuels and increase incentives for investments in refueling infrastructure.
  • The Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act removes the EPA certification requirements, while ensuring the conversion does not degrade emission performance.”

It would also reform the EPA “Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements by allowing higher blend levels of ethanol to exceed the current 9.0 psi standard, and it prevents the EPA from regulating biomass fuel.

  • RVP is a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates into the atmosphere. EPA regulates RVP in conjunction with ozone emissions in the summer months. Congress previously directed EPA to issue a “one pound waiver” for ethanol blends of 10%, allowing E10 to be sold at 10.0 psi…
  • President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA to look into the possibility of allowing year-round sales of E15. This bill extends the Congressional waiver to higher blends of ethanol, including E15.”

Describing the benefits of the bill, Senator Paul said, “The Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act provides new economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers by allowing fuel producers and automobile manufacturers to innovate and bring new products to market that will lower costs for consumers, increase domestic energy production, and protect the environment.

If we want to ensure a strong future for Kentucky agriculture and the industry across the rest of the country, we must get burdensome government regulations out of the way and allow consumer choice and competition to spur economic growth and innovation.”

This bill had an earlier version in 2015, and it was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

S.643 —BE SAFE Act

Introduced on March 4, this legislation seeks to “strengthen border security and improve other aspects of our broken immigration system.” If enacted into law, it would “impose a $2,500 border security fee on each new green card issued to fund the construction of new border walls or physical barriers and other immigration-related improvements.”

Other provisions of the Act include:

  • “Establishing a Border Security Enhancement Fund at Treasury
  • Directing USCIS to deposit all fees paid under the BE SAFE Act into the Border Security Enhancement Fund
  • Authorizing the president to use Border Security Enhancement Fund for certain immigration-related purposes
  • Enumerating the authorized uses of funds in the Border Security Enhancement Fund, including: border barriers, fencing or wall construction; enforcement, detention, and removal operations; counter-trafficking; improving ports of entry; reducing visa overstays; conducting oversight of student visa holders, refugees, and asylees; expanding trusted traveler programs; reducing immigration court backlogs; completing a biometric entry-exit system.”

In a press release about the bill, Senator Paul said, “Since 1998, the U.S. government has handed out just over 1 million green cards on average per year. At this level of demand, the BE SAFE Act will generate some $2.5 billion annually in new revenue.”

A public statement he made about it also indicated that his approach to immigration reform, “provides a constitutional answer that guarantees funding for our needs on the border without taking away from other priorities or increasing the burden on American taxpayers.”

The bill has no cosponsors and was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

S.J.Res.12 —AFGHAN Service Act

Also known as the American Forces Going Home After Noble (AFGHAN) Service Act, this resolution was introduced on March 4 with only a single cosponsor. It intends to “end America’s longest war, honor the volunteers who bravely serve our nation by providing bonuses to those who have deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism, and redirect the savings from ending nation-building in Afghanistan to America’s needs at home.”

According to the Senator’s press release on the resolution,“though American troops achieved what they were sent to carry out in October 2001, the mission shift to nation-building has kept our forces in Afghanistan over 17 years later. Over 2,300 military members have sacrificed their lives in the war, with another 20,000 wounded in action. In addition, the Afghanistan war has cost the United States $2 trillion, with the war currently costing over $51 billion a year.”

Specifically, it:

“Declares victory in Afghanistan. The masterminds of the 9/11 attack are no longer capable of carrying out such an attack from Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, and Al Qaeda has been all but eliminated from Afghanistan.

Pays, within one year, a $2,500 bonus to all members of the military who have served in the Global War on Terrorism. Since 2001, more than 3,002,635 men and women have deployed overseas in support of this effort. This would be a one-time cost of approximately $7 billion and an immediate savings of over 83% when compared to the current yearly costs. The $51 billion a year can be redirected to domestic priorities.

Additionally, there is precedent for service bonuses going back to the Revolutionary War.

Sets guidelines for withdrawal. Within 45 days, a plan will be formulated for an orderly withdrawal and turnover of facilities to the Afghan Government, while also setting a framework for political reconciliation to be implemented by Afghans in accordance with the Afghan Constitution. Within a year, all U.S. forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan.

At the completion of withdrawal, the 2001 AUMF will be repealed.”

Explaining the need for the legislation, Senator Paul said, “Endless war weakens our national security, robs this and future generations through skyrocketing debt, and creates more enemies to threaten us. For over 17 years, our soldiers have gone above and beyond what has been asked of them in Afghanistan. It is time to declare the victory we achieved long ago, bring them home, and put America’s needs first.”

The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

S.Res.204 —An executive resolution to return to the President of the United States the Arms Trade Treaty

Introduced on May 13, this resolution seeks to “remove the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) from U.S. Senate consideration and return it to President Donald Trump.” Explaining his reasoning, Senator Paul said in a news release, “Last month, President Trump announced his decision to revoke the U.S.’ 2013 signature on the treaty. Shortly after his announcement, President Trump sent a message to the Senate requesting it return the ATT, which the Obama administration had submitted to it in the closing weeks of the 114th Congress in 2016 for ratification.”

Senator Paul has long been against the ATT, saying that it “paves the way for international law and pressure to determine U.S. policy instead of our Constitution and could usher in increased regulation to restrict Americans’ liberties.”

He then went on to publicly explain his sponsorship of the bill, noting that as a “fierce advocate for American sovereignty and the Second Amendment, I applaud President Trump for responding to concerns I and many other Americans have raised and rejecting this UN power grab. I urge the Senate to leave no doubt about where it stands on these issues by quickly passing my resolution.”

It was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

S.1809 —REPUBLIC Act

One of the only bipartisan measures sponsored by Senator Paul, this bill was introduced on June 12 and is cosponsored by Ron Wyden of Oregon. It is also known as the Reforming Emergency Powers to Uphold the Balances and Limitations Inherent in the Constitution (REPUBLIC) Act and seeks to “preserve the president’s ability to act immediately in cases of national emergencies but also uphold Congress’ constitutional responsibility to check the executive branch.”

It would do this through the following provisions:

  • Permit the president to take emergency action for no more than 72 hours without congressional approval;
  • Under current law, the burden is on Congress to pass a joint resolution of disapproval if it finds that a president has misused his authority to declare a national emergency.
  • By imposing a requirement for approval, the REPUBLIC Act would empower the people’s representatives to combat misuse of presidential emergency powers.
  • Establish expedited procedures by which Congress would consider a joint resolution of approval;
  • Sunset congressionally approved national emergencies 90 days after the issuance of the presidential declaration, unless renewed;
  • Exempt the president’s powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) from the amendments made by this legislation to allow the president to immediately impose and sustain sanctions on our foreign adversaries. By carving out IEEPA, the REPUBLIC Act will not require Congress to vote every 90 days to continue sanctions on North Korea, Iran, transnational crime organizations, etc.;
  • Repeal the statutory authority empowering a president to unilaterally control communications, such as the internet, cell phone service, and television/radio broadcasts; and
  • Terminate all existing national emergencies that do not specify IEEPA as the source of presidential authority.

As things stand, the office of the president has “unilateral power to determine when and how it will exercise emergency powers. Although the Founders included the principle of the separation of powers as a central feature of our government, an emergency, such as a military invasion of the United States, can justify the suspension of the constitutional order so that the president can protect the nation immediately and without congressional authorization.”

Senator Paul explained that “Congress fails its responsibilities to the American people and the Constitution when it leaves the executive virtually unchecked to unlock and exercise emergency powers in perpetuity. The REPUBLIC Act strengthens the separation of powers by instituting critical reforms, including requiring Congress to specifically approve of a national emergency declaration in a timely fashion instead of being forced to disapprove of an overreach by super majority, as well as preventing a president from taking over the internet and other means of communication. It does all this while preserving the president’s authority to act immediately to defend our nation.”

It was read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

In Conclusion

In examining a few of the legislative items that Senator Paul has introduced in the 116th Congress, it is clear that he has no undue influences upon his actions. He is conservative and Republican, and that is what guides his choices. There are no signs that any backers have pressured him into making decisions or pursuing specific outcomes.