Rand Paul on last-minute federal budget: 'A rotten, terrible' way to govern

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has big concerns about the budget process.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has big concerns about the budget process. AP

With Congress teetering on the brink of its third government shutdown in three months, Sen. Rand Paul still hasn't seen the details of a new budget bill that's likely to be 1,000 pages long — and he's not pleased.

That matters because it was Paul, R-Ky., who last month single-handedly prevented Congress from speedily moving ahead on a sweeping budget deal, triggering a short government shutdown as he protested his own Republican party’s deficit spending.

This time, Paul hasn't yet decided on whether he'll seek to slow the measure, but he's clearly unhappy with the closed door talks, telling McClatchy in an interview this is a "rotten, terrible, no good way to run your government."

In two conversations with McClatchy, Paul said he'd make up his mind after he sees the $1.3 trillion spending plan, which Republican leaders had hoped to produce last week but were working round the clock with Democrats to finish Wednesday. Details are expected to be finalized later in the day.

"You have to know what's in it," Paul said. "Really, should we be looking at 1,000 page bills with 24 hours to decide what's in them? It's really not a good way to run your government."

Paul infuriated fellow Republicans last month when he took to the Senate floor to decry a spending bill. He told McClatchy this time he's still incensed by his party's willingness to bust spending caps.

"That's why I gave them a piece of my mind the last time around. I'm upset that we're spending like every Democrat that we criticized," Paul said. "I ran for office because I thought the Obama spending and trillion dollar annual deficits were a real problem for our country and now Republicans are doing the same thing.

“So I'm giving them the same grief I gave Obama."

Republican lawmakers assailed Paul last month for his decision to push the vote into the early morning hours to protest what he said was excess spending, with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, calling it “grossly irresponsible.” But Paul said this week that he’s not faced any pressure so far this time.

Senate and House leadership said they remained optimistic about reaching a deal before government funding is due to expire Friday. The House could vote as soon as Thursday, and the Senate could follow Friday.

It only takes a single senator, though, to hold up Senate proceedings.

As for a potential blockade by Paul, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., shrugged his shoulders: “Sen. Paul, well he's Sen. Paul.”

It wasn’t long ago that fiscal responsibility was a mainstream Republican rallying cry. This was not lost on Senator Rand Paul who briefly shut the government down Friday morning over spending increases.

Lesley Clark: 202-383-6054, @lesleyclark