Republican senator uses lengthy speech to push US government to brink of shut down

Jeremy B White
Rand Paul has an affinity for holding up Senate votes to make a point: AP

A single Republican senator pushed the United States government to the precipice of shutting down after delivering a long diatribe on excessive spending.

With the government hours away from running out of funding, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul delayed a vote with a lengthy series of speeches condemning a budget deal that raises spending caps and augments military funding.

The small-government libertarian assailed his Republican colleagues for embracing a deal that would inflate the budget deficit, scolding them for having abandoned the staunch opposition to deficits that animated the party under Barack Obama.

Last year, Republicans — including Mr Paul — rallied behind a sweeping tax law championed by Donald Trump that is predicted to add substantially to the budget deficit.

“We need to be honest enough to look in the mirror at ourselves when we are in charge of all three branches of government,” Mr Paul said.

“I think the country’s worth a debate until three in the morning,” he added.

Revisiting a career theme, Mr Paul decried committing America to open-ended conflicts abroad and allocating the money for “perpetual war mode”.

In 2013 he monopolised the Senate floor for more than 13 hours to condemn drone strikes, holding up a vote on Mr Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA.

As the government hurtled closer to a potential shutdown, the White House began preparing for the vast federal bureaucracy to begin grinding to a halt.

A senior House Democrat asked Republicans to consider a 24-hour funding stopgap bill in an effort to buy more time.

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