NEW YORK, N.Y. — Speaking to a meeting of influential conservatives here Monday night, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul criticized his fellow Republicans in Congress for lacking a unified leadership on the upcoming sequestration.
"We announce our surrender before we get started on every battle," Paul said. "That literally is our problem."
"We need to say over and over again…that the sequester was [Obama's] idea, that he's the one who's laying people off, we aren't, and that we have an idea to fix the sequester in a way that avoids any layoffs," he added.
Noting that Senate Republicans have not yet coalesced behind a plan to deal with the impending across-the-board budget cuts, Paul, a libertarian and Tea Party favorite, called on his colleagues to get behind his own plan to fix the sequester.
That plan — which has gained little traction, even among conservatives — would achieve the same among of budget cuts as the sequester by implementing a federal hiring freeze; reducing federal employee compensation and travel; repealing the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires the federal government to pay workers the local prevailing wage; cutting military research; and slashing 50 percent of the foreign aid budget.
Paul also said that he would prefer that Republicans use debt ceiling talks, rather than the budget debate, to extract spending cuts from Democrats.
"If [the Senate] doesn't vote for a continuing resolution, the government will shut down — so there is a downside," Paul said. "The debt ceiling was the place to lay down the gauntlet, and it still is. But there's a vacuum somewhere, and there's not enough leadership to do that."
As another example of the lack of Republican Senate leadership, Paul pointed to the decision to back off a filibuster of Chuck Hagel, Obama's embattled nominee for Defense Secretary.
"To announce after we got a filibuster that we are already giving up, when we didn't even get a piece of paper or anything — what a waste of time!" Paul said. "That is people who don't know what the hell they're doing."
Paul said that he is not sure whether he will vote to confirm Hagel. He added that he is more concerned about Obama's nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, given Brennan's involvement with the White House's drone program.
"I know people are hot and heavy on the Hagel thing — I'm more hot and heavy on the Brennan thing," Paul said.
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