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Rand Paul blocks Senate resolution backing protection for whistleblowers

The Hill logo The Hill 11/6/2019 Jordain Carney
Rand Paul standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Rand Paul blocks Senate resolution backing protection for whistleblowers © Greg Nash Rand Paul blocks Senate resolution backing protection for whistleblowers

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked a resolution Wednesday reaffirming the Senate's support for whistleblower protections and accused Democrats of "fake outrage."

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) had asked for unanimous consent to pass the resolution, which "acknowledges the contributions of whistleblowers," and throws the chamber's support behind protecting whistleblowers from retaliation.

"The threats we have seen over the last few days are so egregious they demand bipartisan outrage from one end of this chamber to the other, whether you're a Democrat, Republican, independent, liberal, moderate or conservative," Schumer said on the Senate floor. "What's happening here is another erosion of the values of this republic for political expediency."

He added that they should "send a message today that the Senate reaffirms our long standing tradition about defending whistleblowers."

Under Senate rules, any senator can try to pass a resolution or bill, but any senator can object and block passage.

Paul objected to passing the resolution after Democrats refused to drop their resolution and instead pass whistleblower legislation that he introduced earlier that day.

"I support whistleblowers and I do think they have a role to play in keeping government accountable ... but what we have seen over the last few years is that we have a system that we should continue to refine," Paul said.

He argued that his legislation would "make clear" that President Trump should be able to face his accuser. The measure also would expand current whistleblower protections for contractors.

"The bill I will introduce today will expand the whistleblower act [and] would be made retroactive so Edward Snowden can come home to live in his own country. All he did was expose that his government was not obeying the Constitution," Paul said.

Hirono objected to dropping the Democratic resolution and passing Paul's bill.

"My colleague's bill was just dropped on my lap literally just now. I certainly haven't had a chance to read through the bill," Hirono said.

She added that she was "flabbergasted" by a provision in Paul's legislation that would apply the Sixth Amendment to impeachment proceedings.

"Come forward but we're going to out you, subject you threats, intimidation, retaliation," Hirono said, summarizing the impact of the provision.

The back-and-forth on the Senate floor comes after Paul rankled his GOP colleagues, as well as Democrats, by calling for the media to disclose the whistleblower's name.

He initially made the request during a rally in Kentucky on Monday night with Trump, before doubling down on it Tuesday.

The whistleblower complaint is at the center of the House impeachment inquiry into whether Trump tied aid to Ukraine to the country opening up a probe into former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Trump and his allies argue that the president should have the ability to confront his accuser, including learning about any potential political biases.

Asked on Tuesday why he hasn't disclosed the name of the individual, Paul told reporters that he "probably will."

"I'm more than willing to, and I probably will at some point," he said. "There is no law preventing anybody from saying the name."

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