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Rand Paul

Rand Paul

Randal Howard Paul (born January 7, 1963) is an American politician and physician serving as the junior United States Senator from Kentucky since 2011, alongside Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He is the son of former U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas who was a presidential candidate in 1988, 2008 and 2012.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Paul attended Baylor University and is a graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine. Paul began practicing ophthalmology in 1993 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and established his own clinic in December 2007. In 2010, Paul entered politics by running for a seat in the United States Senate. A Republican, Paul has described himself as a Constitutional conservative and a supporter of the Tea Party movement. He has advocated for a balanced budget amendment, term limits, and privacy reform.

Paul was a candidate for the Republican nomination at the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He suspended his campaign in February 2016, after finishing in fifth place out of 12 Republican candidates at the Iowa caucuses.

Rand Paul
Rand Paul, official portrait, 112th Congress alternate.jpg
United States Senator
from Kentucky
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Serving with Mitch McConnell
Preceded byJim Bunning
Personal details
Randal Howard Paul

(1963-01-07)January 7, 1963
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Kelley Ashby (m.1990)
ParentsRon Paul
Carol Wells
ResidenceBowling Green, Kentucky, U.S.
EducationBaylor University
Duke University (MD)
WebsiteSenate website [281]

Early life

Randal Howard Paul was born on January 7, 1963, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Carol (née Wells) and Ron Paul, who is also a politician and physician. The elder Paul was a U.S. Representative from Texas and ran for President of the United States three times.[1] The middle child of five, his siblings are Ronald "Ronnie" Paul Jr., Lori Paul Pyeatt, Robert Paul, and Joy Paul-LeBlanc.[2]

Paul was baptized in the Episcopal Church[3] and identified as a practicing Christian as a teenager.[4]

Despite his father's libertarian views and strong support for individual rights,[4][5] the novelist Ayn Rand was not the inspiration for his first name. Growing up, he went by "Randy",[6] but his wife shortened it to "Rand."[4][7][8]

The Paul family moved to Lake Jackson, Texas, in 1968,[6][9] where he was raised[10][11] and where his father began a medical practice and for an extent of time was the only obstetrician in Brazoria County.[6][9]

When Rand was 13, his father was elected to the United States House of Representatives.[12] That same year, Paul attended the 1976 Republican National Convention, where his father headed Ronald Reagan's Texas delegation.[13] The younger Paul often spent summer vacations interning in his father's congressional office.[14] In his teenage years, Paul studied the Austrian economists that his father respected, as well as the writings of Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand.[6] Paul went to Brazoswood High School and was on the swimming team and played defensive back on the football team.[4][10]

Paul attended Baylor University from fall 1981 to summer 1984 and was enrolled in the honors program. During the time he spent at Baylor, he was involved in the swim team and the Young Conservatives of Texas and was a member of a secret organization known as The NoZe Brotherhood.[15] He regularly contributed to The Baylor Lariat student newspaper.[13] Paul dropped out of Baylor without completing his baccalaureate degree,[16] when he was accepted into his father's alma mater, the Duke University School of Medicine, which, at the time, did not require an undergraduate degree for admission to its graduate school. He earned an M.D. degree in 1988 and completed his residency in 1993.[17]

Medical career

After completing his residency in ophthalmology, Paul moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky. He has held a state-issued medical license since moving there in 1993.[18] He received his first job from John Downing of Downing McPeak Vision Centers, which brought him to Bowling Green after completing his residency. Paul worked for Downing for about five years before parting ways. Afterwards, he went to work at the Graves Gilbert Clinic, a private medical group in Bowling Green, for 10 years before creating his own practice in a converted one-story house across the street from Downing's office.[19] After his election to the U.S. Senate, he merged his practice with Downing's medical practice.[20] Paul has faced two malpractice lawsuits between 1993 and 2010; he was cleared in one case while the other was settled for $50,000.[19] His medical work has been praised by Downing and he has medical privileges at two Bowling Green hospitals.[18][19]

Paul specializes in cataract and glaucoma surgeries, LASIK procedures, and corneal transplants.[7] As a member of the Bowling Green Noon Lions Club, Paul founded the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic in 2009 to help provide eye surgery and exams for those who cannot afford to pay.[21] Paul won the Melvin Jones Fellow Award for Dedicated Humanitarian Services from the Lions Club International Foundation for his work establishing the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic.[22]

National Board of Ophthalmology

In 1995, Paul passed the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) boards on his first attempt and earned board-certification under the ABO for 10 years. Prior to this, in 1992, the ABO had changed its certification program, which had previously awarded lifetime certifications, instead requiring doctors to recertify every 10 years. Those who had already been given lifetime certification were allowed to keep it (according to the ABO, they would not legally have been able to rescind these certifications). Shortly after this change, Paul began a campaign to protest it. This effort culminated in 1997 with him creating, "along with 200 other young ophthalmologists", the National Board of Ophthalmology (NBO) to offer an alternative certification system, at a cost substantially lower than that of the ABO.[23][24][25] Its certification exam, an open book take-home test, was described by one taker as "probably harder" and "more clinically relevant" than the ABO's exam.[23]

Named board members were Paul, his wife, and his father-in-law.[26] The NBO was, itself, never accepted as an accrediting entity by organizations such as the American Board of Medical Specialties,[18] and its certification was considered invalid by many hospitals and insurance companies. Paul let his own ABO certification lapse in 2005, which did not affect his practice in Kentucky; the state does not require board certification. By Paul's estimate, about 50 or 60 doctors were certified by the NBO.[23] The NBO was incorporated in 1999, but Paul allowed it to be dissolved in 2000 when he did not file the required paperwork with the Kentucky Secretary of State's office. He later recreated the board in 2005, but it was again dissolved in 2011.[27]

Political activism

Paul was head of the local chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas during his time at Baylor University.[13] In 1984, Paul took a semester off to aid his father's primary challenge to Republican Senator Phil Gramm.[13]

While attending Duke University School of Medicine, Paul volunteered for his father's 1988 Libertarian presidential campaign.[14]

In response to President Bush's breaking his election promise to not raise taxes, Paul founded the North Carolina Taxpayers Union in 1991.[14] In 1994, Paul founded the anti-tax organization Kentucky Taxpayers United (KTU), and was chair of the organization from its inception. He has often cited his involvement with KTU as the foundation of his involvement with state politics.[28] The group[29][30] examined Kentucky legislators' records on taxation and spending and encouraging politicians to publicly pledge to vote uniformly against tax increases.[31][32]

Paul managed his father's successful 1996 Congressional campaign, in which the elder Paul returned to the House after a twelve-year absence. The elder Paul defeated incumbent Democrat-turned-Republican Greg Laughlin in the Republican primary, despite Laughlin's support from the NRCC and Republican leaders such as Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush.[13]

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2010 that, although Paul had told a Kentucky television audience as recently as September 2009 that KTU published ratings each year on state legislators' tax positions and that "we've done that for about 15 years", the group had stopped issuing its ratings and report cards after 2002 and had been legally dissolved by the state in 2000 after failing to file registration documents.[28]

Paul spoke on his father's behalf when his father was campaigning for office,[33] including throughout the elder Paul's run in the 2008 presidential election, during which Rand campaigned door-to-door in New Hampshire[34] and spoke in Boston at a fundraising rally for his father on the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.[35]

In February 2014, Paul joined the Tea Party-affiliated conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks in filing a class-action lawsuit charging that the federal government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records metadata is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.[36][37][38] Commenting on the lawsuit at a press conference, Paul said, "I'm not against the NSA, I'm not against spying, I'm not against looking at phone records... I just want you to go to a judge, have an individual's name and [get] a warrant. That's what the Fourth Amendment says."[36] He also said there was no evidence the surveillance of phone metadata had stopped terrorism.[36] Critics, including Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz[39] and Steven Aftergood, the director of the American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy,[38] called the lawsuit a political "stunt". Paul's political campaign organization said that the names of members of the public who went to Paul's websites and signed on as potential class-action participants would be available in the organization's database for future campaign use.[36][40]

On the announcement of the filing of the lawsuit, Mattie Fein, the spokeswoman for and former wife of attorney Bruce Fein, complained that Fein's intellectual contribution to the lawsuit had been stolen and that he had not been properly paid for his work.[41] Paul's representatives denied the charge, and Fein issued a statement saying that Mattie Fein had not been authorized to speak for him on the matter and that he had in fact been paid for his work on the lawsuit.[41]

Paul is co-author of a book entitled The Tea Party Goes to Washington (2011)[42][43] and also the author of Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds (2012).[44] Paul was included in Time magazine's world's 100 most influential people, for 2013 and 2014.[45][46] He is also a contributor to Time magazine.[47]

Election to U.S. Senate

Primary campaign

Rand Paul speaking at a Tea Party rally in Hawesville, Kentucky, on November 21, 2009

Rand Paul speaking at a Tea Party rally in Hawesville, Kentucky, on November 21, 2009

Rand Paul greeting supporters at Bowman Field in Louisville, Kentucky on November 1, 2010.

Rand Paul greeting supporters at Bowman Field in Louisville, Kentucky on November 1, 2010.

At the beginning of 2009, there was movement by political supporters of his father to draft Paul in a bid to replace beleaguered Republican Kentucky senator Jim Bunning. Paul's potential candidacy was discussed in the Los Angeles Times[48] and locally in the Kentucky press.[49] Paul's father said, "Should Senator Bunning decide not to run, I think Rand would make a great U.S. Senator."[50] On April 15, 2009, Paul gave his first political speech as a potential candidate at a Tea Party rally held in his town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, where more than 700 people had gathered in support of the Tea Party movement.[51]

On May 1, 2009, Paul said that if Bunning, whose fundraising in 2009 matched his poor numbers in opinion polling for the 2010 election,[52] declined to seek a third term, he would almost certainly run in the Republican Party primary to succeed him,[53] and formed an exploratory committee soon after, while still promising to stay out of the race if Bunning ultimately decided to run for reelection. Paul made this announcement on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, though a Kentucky news site first broke the news.[54]

On July 28, 2009, Bunning announced that he would not run for reelection in the face of insufficient fundraising. The announcement left only Paul and Secretary of State Trey Grayson as the remaining candidates for the Republican nomination,[55] with Paul announcing on August 5, 2009, that he would officially run for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. The announcement was made through a series of national TV events, radio, and other programs, as well as newspapers in Kentucky.[56][57][58]

On August 20, 2009, Paul's supporters planned a moneybomb to kick off his campaign. The official campaign took in $433,509 in 24 hours. His website reported that this set a new record in Kentucky's political fundraising history in a 24-hour period.[59] A second "moneybomb" was held on September 23, 2009, to counter a D.C. fundraiser being held for primary opponent Trey Grayson, by 23 Republican United States Senators.[60] The theme was a UFC "fight" between "We the People" and the "D.C. Insiders".[61] Later in the campaign, Paul claimed his pledge to not take money from lobbyists and Senators who had voted for the bailout was only a "primary pledge";[62] he subsequently held a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., with the same Senators who had been the target of the September 23, 2009, "moneybomb". Paul ended up raising some $3 million during the primary period. Paul's fundraising was aided by his father's network of supporters.[13]

Although Grayson was considered the frontrunner in July 2009,[63] Paul found success characterizing Grayson as a "career politician" and challenging Grayson's conservatism. Paul ran an ad in February that made an issue out of Grayson's September 2008 admission that he voted for Bill Clinton when he was 20 years old.[64] James Dobson, a Christian evangelical figure, endorsed Grayson on April 26 based on the advice of what Dobson described as "senior members of the GOP", but on May 3 the Paul campaign announced that Dobson had changed his endorsement to Paul[65] after Paul and some Paul supporters had lobbied Dobson insisting on Paul's social conservative bona fides.[66]

On May 18, Paul won the Republican Senatorial primary by a 23% margin,[67][68] meaning he would face the Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, in the November 2 general election.[69]

General campaign

In the 2010 general election, Paul faced Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. The campaign attracted $8.5 million in contributions from outside groups, of which $6 million was spent to help Paul and $2.5 million to help Conway. This money influx was in addition to the money spent by the candidates themselves: $6 million by Paul and $4.7 million by Conway.[70][71]

On June 28, 2010, Paul supporters held their first post-primary online fundraising drive, this time promoted as a "money blast".[72][73]

Paul's campaign got off to a rough start after his comments on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stirred controversy.[74] Paul stated that he favored 9 out of 10 titles of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but that had he been a senator during the 1960s, he would have raised some questions on the constitutionality of Title II of the Act.[75] Paul said that he abhors racism, and that he would have marched with Martin Luther King Jr. to repeal Jim Crow laws. He later released a statement declaring that he would have voted for the Act and stated "unequivocally ... that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964".[76][77] Later he generated more controversy by characterizing statements made by Obama Administration officials regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup as sounding "un-American".[78]

Paul defeated Conway in the general election with 56% of the vote to 44% for Conway.

U.S. Senate

112th Congress (2011–2013)

Rand Paul being sworn in as a senator by Vice President Joe Biden, along with his family, in the Old Senate Chamber in the United States Capitol building

Rand Paul being sworn in as a senator by Vice President Joe Biden, along with his family, in the Old Senate Chamber in the United States Capitol building

Paul was sworn in on January 5, 2011, along with his father, who was simultaneously in the House of Representatives.[79]

Paul was assigned to be on the Energy and Natural Resources, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and Small Business committees.[80] Paul also formed the Senate Tea Party Caucus with Jim DeMint and Mike Lee as its inaugural members.[81] His first legislative proposal was to cut $500 billion from federal spending in one year. This proposal included cutting the Department of Education by 83 percent and the United States Department of Homeland Security by 43 percent, as well as folding the Department of Energy into the Department of Defense and eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Seven independent agencies would be eliminated and food stamps would be cut by 30 percent. Under Paul's proposal, defense spending would be reduced by 6.5 percent and international aid would be eliminated.[82] He later proposed a five-year budget plan intended to balance the budget.[83]

In February, Paul was one of two Republicans to vote against extending three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act (roving wiretaps, searches of business records, and conducting surveillance of "lone wolves" — individuals not linked to terrorist groups).[84][85]

On March 2, Paul was one of nine senators to vote against a stopgap bill that cut $4 billion from the budget and temporarily prevent a government shutdown, saying that it did not cut enough from the budget.[86] One week later, he voted against the Democratic and Republican budget proposals to keep funding the federal government, saying that both bills did not cut enough spending. Both bills failed to pass the Senate. He later voted against stopgap measures on March 17 and April 8, both of which passed the senate.[87][88]

On April 14, he was one of 19 senators to vote against a budget that cut $38.5 billion from the budget and fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year.[89]

Paul voiced opposition to U.S. intervention in the Libyan Civil War and has criticized President Obama for not gaining congressional consent for Operation Odyssey Dawn.[90] During the debt ceiling crisis, the Senator stated that he would only support raising the debt ceiling if a balanced budget amendment was enacted.[91] Paul was a supporter of the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, which was tabled by Democratic opposition.[92] On August 3, Paul voted against a bill that would raise the debt ceiling.[93]

On September 7, Paul called for a vote of no confidence in United States Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner.[94] Later that month, Paul blocked legislation that would strengthen safety rules for oil and gas pipelines, because, he stated, the bill was not strong enough.[95] In October, Paul blocked a bill that would provide $36 million in benefits for elderly and disabled refugees, saying that he was concerned that it could be used to aid domestic terrorists. This was in response to two alleged terrorists who came to the United States through a refugee program and were receiving welfare benefits when they were arrested in 2011 in Paul's hometown of Bowling Green.[96] Paul lifted his hold on the bill after Democratic leaders promised to hold a Congressional hearing into how individuals are selected for refugee status and request an investigation on how the two suspects were admitted in the country through a refugee program.[97]

In June 2012, Paul endorsed Mitt Romney after it became apparent that he would be the Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election.[98] However, he was later vocal about his disagreements with Romney on a number of policies.[99]

113th Congress (2013–2015)

Rand Paul speaking during filibuster on the Senate floor on March 6, 2013.

Rand Paul speaking during filibuster on the Senate floor on March 6, 2013.

For the 113th Congress, Paul was added to the Foreign Relations committee and retained his spot on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and Small Business committees.[100]

On March 6–7, 2013, Paul engaged in a filibuster to delay voting on the nomination of John O. Brennan as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Paul questioned the Obama administration's use of drones and the stated legal justification for their potential use within the United States. Paul held the floor for 12 hours and 52 minutes.[101] He ceded to several Republican senators and Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, who generally also questioned drone usage.[102][103] Paul said his purpose was to challenge drone policy in general and specifically as it related to noncombatants on U.S. soil. He requested a pledge from the Administration that noncombatants would not be targeted on U.S. soil.[104] Attorney General Eric Holder responded that the President is not authorized to deploy extrajudicial punishment without due process, against non-combatant citizens. Paul answered that he was "quite happy" with the response.[105] The filibuster was ended with a cloture vote of 81 to 16, and Brennan was confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 63 to 34.[106]

In March 2013, Paul, with Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, threatened another filibuster, this one opposing any legislative proposals to expand federal gun control measures.[107] The filibuster was attempted on April 11, 2013, but was dismissed by cloture, in a 68–31 vote.[108] Also in March 2013, Paul endorsed fellow Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's 2014 re-election campaign.[109] McConnell had previously hired Paul's 2010 campaign manager, Jesse Benton, as his own campaign manager.[110] Paul's endorsement was seen as a major win for McConnell in avoiding a challenge in the Republican primary.[109]

In response to Detroit's declaration of bankruptcy, Paul stated he would not allow the government to attempt to bail out Detroit. In a phone interview with Breitbart News on July 19, 2013, Paul said, "I basically say he is bailing them out over my dead body, because we don't have any money in Washington." Paul said he thought a federal bailout would send the wrong message to other cities with financial problems.[111]

In September, Paul stated that the United States should avoid military intervention in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.[112] In an op-ed, Paul disputed the Obama administration's claims that the threat of military force caused Syria's government to consider turning over its chemical weapons, instead arguing that the opposition to military action in Syria, and the delay that it caused, led to diplomatic progress.[113]

In October 2013, Paul was the subject of some controversy when it was discovered that he had plagiarized from Wikipedia part of a speech in support of Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. Referencing the movie Gattaca, Paul quoted almost verbatim from the Wikipedia article about the film without citing the source.[114][115][116] Evidence soon surfaced that Paul had copied sentences in a number of his other speeches nearly verbatim from other authors without giving credit to the original sources,[117][118] including in the speech he had given as the Tea Party rebuttal to the president's 2013 State of the Union address. In addition, a three-page-long passage of Paul's book Government Bullies was taken directly from an article by the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.[119][120] When it became apparent that Paul's op-ed in The Washington Times on mandatory minimums and related testimony he had given before the Senate Judiciary Committee both contained material that was virtually identical to an article that had been published by another author in The Week a few days earlier,[121] the Washington Times said that the newspaper would no longer publish the weekly column Paul had been contributing to the paper.[122] After a week of almost daily news reports of new allegations of plagiarism, Paul said that he was being held to an "unfair standard", but would restructure his office in order to prevent mistakes in the future, if that would be what it would take "to make people leave me the hell alone."[123]

In response to political turmoil in Ukraine in early 2014, Paul initially said that the United States should remain mindful of the fact that although the Cold War is over, Russia remains a military power with long-range nuclear missiles. He said that the United States should try to maintain a "respectful relationship with Russia" and avoid taking actions that the Russians might view as a provocation, such as seeking to have Ukraine join NATO or otherwise interfering in Russia's relationship with Ukraine.[124]

Two weeks later, after the Russian parliament authorized the use of military force in Ukraine[125] and Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military exercises along Russia's border with Ukraine,[126] Paul began taking a different tone.[127] He wrote: "Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine is a gross violation of that nation's sovereignty and an affront to the international community ... Putin must be punished for violating the Budapest Memorandum, and Russia must learn that the U.S. will isolate it if it insists on acting like a rogue nation."[128] He said that the United States and European allies could retaliate against Russia's military aggression without any need for military action. He urged that the United States impose economic sanctions on Russia and resume an effort to build defensive anti-missile installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. He also called for the United States to take steps as a counterweight to Russia's strategic influence on Europe's oil and gas supply, such as lifting restrictions on new exploration and drilling for fossil fuels in the United States along with immediate approval of the controversial Keystone Pipeline, which he said would allow the United States to ship more oil and gas to Europe if Russia attempts to cut off its own supply to Europe.[128]

Paul played a leading role in blocking a treaty with Switzerland that would enable the IRS to conduct tax evasion probes, arguing that the treaty would infringe upon Americans' privacy.[129] Paul received the 2014 Distinguished Service Award from the Center for the National Interest (formally called the Nixon Center) for his public policy work.[130]

In response to reports that the CIA infiltrated the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Paul called for the firing of CIA Director John O. Brennan.[131] In December 2014, Paul supported the actions to change United States policy towards Cuba and trade with that country taken by the Obama administration.[132]

114th Congress (2015–2017)

In the beginning of 2015, Senator Paul re-introduced the Federal Reserve Transparency Act.[133] Senator Paul also introduced the FAIR Act, or Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act, which would restrict civil forfeiture proceedings.[134] Paul spoke for ten and a half hours on May 20, 2015, in opposition to the reauthorization of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.[135][136] Sections of the Patriot Act were prevented from being reauthorized on June 1.[137]

After the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016, on February 15, Paul indicated that he would oppose any nomination by President Obama to replace the late Supreme Court Justice.[138]

During a press briefing on May 6, 2016, President Obama called on Paul to stop "blocking the implementation of tax treaties that have been pending for years", arguing that they assisted law enforcement in off shore investigations into tax evasion.[139][140] Paul advocated for the abolition of gun-free zones during a speech to the National Rifle Association on May 20, citing repeated tragedies occurring in these locations.[141] On June 6, Paul spoke of introducing legislation to cease Selective Service, three days after the death of Muhammad Ali, after whom he intended to name the legislation in tribute.[142]

115th Congress (2017–2019)

In March 2017, Paul introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act that would prohibit the use of United States Government funds to provide assistance to Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to countries supporting those organizations.[143][144] On March 16, Senator John McCain accused Paul of being an agent of Vladimir Putin after Paul objected to adding Montenegro to NATO.[145][146] Paul responded the following day by saying McCain "makes a really, really strong case for term limits", suggesting McCain had become "a little unhinged" as a result of his seniority.[147] On April 7, McCain said he did not pay attention to any of Paul's rhetoric and that the latter did not have "any real influence" in the United States Senate.[148]

Paul questioned President Trump's April 2017 missile strike to Syria by saying, "While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked." He said that further action should not be taken without congressional authorization.[149][150]

Paul was one of 22 senators to sign a letter[151] to President Donald Trump urging the President to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement in May 2017. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Paul has received over $250,000 from oil, gas and coal interests since 2012.[152] In July, Rand Paul joined Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), John Duncan Jr. (R-TN) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in opposing a bill that would impose new economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. President Trump opposed the bill, pointing out that relations with Russia were already "at an all-time and dangerous low". He did, however, sign the bill though likely out of political pressure.[153]

On September 5, the Trump administration announced the intended rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In tweets responding to the act, Paul stated the executive order that created DACA was illegal and congressional bipartisanship was needed to solve or fix the program.[154]

Paul confirmed in an October 2017 interview he would not vote for the Republican budget in the Senate unless billions in spending were removed from the plan: "If leadership is unwilling to compromise with somebody who is concerned about the debt, then they deserve to lose."[155]

In February 2018, Republican Senators introduced immigration framework akin to that proposed by President Trump and with his support that called for a 25 billion being provided for border security in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants brought into the US illegally.[156] Paul was one of fourteen Republican Senators to vote against the proposal.[157]

Five ThirtyEight, which tracks Congressional votes, found that Paul has voted with Donald Trump's positions the least out of all Republicans, only voting with him 74% of the time as of August 2018.[158] In December 2018, in the wake of court filings implicating President Trump's involvement in campaign finance violations, including an attempt to buy a woman's silence, Paul played down the alleged violations and said that they should not be "over-criminalized."[159] Paul said that the campaign finance violations were "an error in filing paperwork or not categorizing" and that going after such violations would turn the U.S. into a "banana republic, where every president gets prosecuted and every president gets thrown in jail when they’re done with office."[159]

Affordable Care Act repeal

Paul introduced a bill on January 25, 2017, that sought to replace the Affordable Care Act which included each person's having a tax credit of $5,000 and not requiring everyone to have coverage, unlike Obamacare.[160]

On March 2, after marching to the House of Representatives side of Capital Hill, Paul was filmed knocking on a door while demanding to see their copy of the replacing and repealing the Affordable Care Act bill.[161] Paul spoke with President Trump over the phone on March 6, Paul telling him that the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act should be two separate bills. Two days later, Paul said Republicans were united in repealing the Affordable Care Act, but divided in their stances on its replacement.[162] On March 12, Paul accused House Speaker Paul Ryan of being misleading in portraying supporters of the American Health Care Act of 2017 as not being negotiable,[163] and three days later, March 15, furthered that Ryan was "selling" President Trump "a bill of goods" that he had not explained fully to the president.[164]

After the bill was pulled by Republican leaders from a vote, Paul released a statement on March 24 thanking House conservatives for rebelling "against ObamaCare Lite."[165] Later, on April 2, Paul golfed with Trump and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney at the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, where they discussed a variety of topics, including healthcare.[166][167]

Paul told reporters on June 15 that he was willing to vote for a partial repeal, but not the implementation of new Republican entitlement programs, which he identified as present in both House and Senate versions of the bill.[168] Paul also told reporters on September 11 that he did not believe the Graham-Cassidy bill would pass.[169] Paul tweeted on September 15 that Graham-Cassidy retained "90% of Obamacare" and dubbed it "more Obamacare Lite".[170]

On September 19, Paul asserted the Graham-Cassidy bill as immortalizing the Affordable Care Act and "a big government boondoggle of a trillion dollars of spending" that Republicans should abandon in favor of pursuing measures that would allow for health insurance to be purchased across state lines.[171] On September 22, after President Trump tweeted that "Rand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as 'the Republican who saved Obamacare'", Paul responded that he would not be coerced into supporting Graham-Cassidy with bribes or bullying.[172]

116th Congress (2019–present)

In January 2019, Paul condemned Senator Mitt Romney for writing an editorial criticizing President Trump. Paul said that Romney's criticism of Trump's character was bad for the country and for the Republican Party.[173]

On July 17, 2019, Paul blocked Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's motion for unanimous consent on a bill renewing the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund along with Utah Senator Mike Lee. The fund was estimated to run out by the end of the year; the bill would renew it until the year 2090. Paul argued that he was not blocking the bill, but rather seeking a vote on an amendment that would offset the new spending by other spending cuts due to the deficit. In a segment on Fox News, which went viral, comedian Jon Stewart and 9/11 first responder John Feal rebuked Paul, accusing him of hypocritical "fiscal responsibility virtue signalling," for delaying passage of the bill, while at the same time he voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which increased the deficit.[174] In response, Paul said he has always insisted on "pay-go provisions" for any increase in spending, including for disaster relief funding, and called Stewart uninformed and a part of a "left-wing mob".[175]

In July 2019, Paul was tapped by President Donald Trump as an envoy to Iran in order to repair Iran–United States relations.[176]

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Foreign Relations (starting 2013) United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women's Issues United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection, and Peace Corps United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and Global Narcotics Affairs

  • Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (starting 2011) United States Senate Health Subcommittee on Children and Families United States Senate Health Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety

  • Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (starting 2011) United States Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia (Chairman) Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations United States Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce

  • Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (starting 2011)

  • Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (2011–13)

2016 presidential campaign


Paul speaking at a campaign rally, October 2015

Paul speaking at a campaign rally, October 2015

Paul was considered a potential candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States since at least January 2013.[177] He delivered the Tea Party response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on February 13, 2013,[178] while Marco Rubio gave the official Republican response. This prompted some pundits to call that date the start of the 2016 Republican primaries.[179] That year, he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington D.C., where he won the 2016 Presidential straw poll. Paul went on to win the straw poll for the next two years as well, leading to some considering Paul to be a front runner for the nomination, although CPAC attendees are typically considered younger and more libertarian-minded than average Republican voters.[180][181][182]

In a speech at the GOP Freedom Summit in April 2014, Paul insisted that the GOP has to broaden its appeal in order to grow as a party. To do so, he said it cannot be the party of "fat cats, rich people and Wall Street" and that the conservative movement has never been about rich people or privilege, "we are the middle class", he said. Paul also said that conservatives must present a message of justice and concern for the unemployed and be against government surveillance to attract new people to the movement, including the young, Hispanics, and blacks.[183]

During the 2014 election, Paul launched a social media campaign titled "Hillary's Losers" which was meant to highlight many of the Democratic candidates that lost their bids for the U.S. Senate despite endorsements from Hillary Clinton. Clinton was also a candidate for President and eventually won the Democratic Party's nomination, going on to lose to Donald Trump in the general election.[184]

Paul began to assemble his campaign team, setting up campaign offices and hiring his campaign manager in the beginning of 2015, fueling speculation that he was preparing to enter the Presidential race.[185] Paul officially announced his presidential candidacy on April 7, 2015. Within a day of his announcement, Paul raised $1 million.[186]

Senate re-election

In April 2011, Paul filed to run for re-election to his Senate seat in 2016.[187] Had he become the Republican presidential (or vice-presidential) nominee, state law would prohibit him from simultaneously running for re-election.[188] In March 2014, the Republican-controlled Kentucky Senate passed a bill that would allow Paul to run for both offices, but the Democratic-controlled Kentucky House of Representatives declined to take it up.[189][190][191]

Paul spent his own campaign money in the 2014 legislative elections, helping Republican candidates for the State House in the hopes of flipping the chamber, thus allowing the legislature to pass the bill (Democratic Governor Steve Beshear's veto can be overridden with a simple majority).[192][193] However, the Democrats retained their 54–46 majority in the State House.[194][195][196] Paul has since given his support to the idea that the Kentucky Republican Party could decide to hold a caucus rather than a primary, potentially giving Paul more time to decide whether he should run for U.S. Senator or continue a potential bid for President.[197]

Exit from presidential campaign

Paul announced the suspension of his presidential campaign on February 3, 2016, shortly after the Iowa caucus, where he finished 5th of the 12 Republicans in the race.[198]

Political positions

Paul being interviewed by Jerry Doyle at LPAC 2011 in Reno, Nevada, September 16, 2011

Paul being interviewed by Jerry Doyle at LPAC 2011 in Reno, Nevada, September 16, 2011

Paul speaking with former U.S. Congressman Allen West

Paul speaking with former U.S. Congressman Allen West

Paul in New Hampshire, August 13, 2015

Paul in New Hampshire, August 13, 2015

Paul became a strong critic of U.S. involvement in the military intervention in Yemen

Paul became a strong critic of U.S. involvement in the military intervention in Yemen

A supporter of the Tea Party movement,[199][200] Paul has described himself as a "constitutional conservative".[201] He is generally described as a libertarian, a term he both embraced[202] and rejected[203] during his first Senate campaign. He supports term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and the Read the Bills Act, in addition to the widespread reduction of federal spending and taxation.[204] He favors a flat tax rate of 14.5% for individuals and business, while eliminating the FICA payroll taxes, as well as taxes on inheritance, gifts, capital gains, dividends, and interest.[205] Paul has frequently appeared on Infowars with radio show host and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.[206][207][208][209] Ideologically, the American Conservative Union has given Paul a lifetime conservative rating of 96% and the Conservative Review gave him a 92% score.[210] As of July, 2019, according to FiveThirtyEight, Paul had voted with President Trump's position on congressional issues 69% of the time.[211]

On social issues, Paul describes himself as "100% pro life", believing that legal personhood begins at fertilization.[212][213][214] In 2009, his position was to ban abortion under all circumstances.[215][216] Since 2010, he has said he would allow for a doctor's discretion in life-threatening cases such as ectopic pregnancies.[217]

Paul has said that same-sex marriage "offends [himself] and a lot of people" on a personal level, and said there is a "crisis that allows people to think there would be some other sorts of marriage."[218][219] Paul holds the view that the decision to ban same-sex marriage should be in the hands of states.[220]

Paul is uncertain regarding the causes behind global warming; he believes the scientific opinion on climate change is "not conclusive." Paul said pollution emissions are subject to "onerous regulation."[221][222] In 2018, Paul called for an investigation of a National Science Foundation grant that went towards educating meteorologists about the science of climate change. Paul said the grant was "not science" but "propagandizing".[223]

Paul has criticized mandatory minimums for drug crimes, which he believes have led to unreasonably harsh sentences for repeat offenders. Paul does not believe in legalizing the recreational use of drugs like marijuana and cocaine,[203] but does not support jailing marijuana users.[224] He supports state laws to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.[225] Paul was one of three U.S. senators in 2015 to introduce a bipartisan bill, CARERS, that would legalize medical marijuana under federal law.[226] In 2017, Paul voted to confirm Jeff Sessions as Attorney General despite Sessions' opposition to criminal justice reform and drug decriminalization because Democrats criticized Sessions' record on race during his confirmation hearings.[227]

Paul opposes all forms of gun control as a violation of Second Amendment rights, including provisions of the Patriot Act.[228] His advocacy of personal property rights includes introducing House Bill S. 890, the Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2012. Provisions of the bill include restricting the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency and other Federal agencies to "impinge upon states' power over land and water use." The bill holds requires Federal agencies to reimburse private property owners double the amount of any economic losses arising from new Federal regulations "that relate to the definition of navigable waters or waters of the United States", and holds the enforcement of any such regulation in abeyance until such payments are complete.[229]

Unlike his more stridently "non-interventionist" father, Paul concedes a role for American armed forces abroad, including permanent foreign military bases.[230] He has said that he blames supporters of the Iraq War and not President Obama for the growth in violence that occurred in 2014, and that the Iraq War "emboldened" Iran.[231] Dick Cheney, John McCain and Rick Perry responded by calling Paul an isolationist,[232][233] but Paul has pointed to opinion polls of likely GOP primary voters as support for his position.[234] Paul stated, referring to ISIS: "I personally believe that this group would not be in Iraq and would not be as powerful had we not been supplying their allies in the war [against Syrian Bashar al-Assad's government]."[235]

Paul then supported airstrikes against ISIS, but questioned the constitutionality of Obama's unilateral actions without a clear congressional mandate.[236][237] Paul has stated concerns about arms sent to Syrian rebels that wind up in unfriendly hands.[238] In 2015, Paul called for a defense budget of $697 billion in 2016. In 2011, shortly after being elected, he proposed a budget which specified $542 billion in defense spending.[239]

On February 2, 2015, Paul generated controversy by suggesting that states should not require parents to vaccinate their children, because parents should have the freedom to make that decision for their children. In an interview with CNBC on February 2, Paul clarified this statement, commenting "I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they are a good thing, but I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom."[240] On February 3, he posted a photograph to Twitter of himself being vaccinated.[241]

In 2016, Paul was one of the first members of Congress to come out in opposition to United States support for the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[242] In June 2017, Paul tried to block Trump administration's plan to sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia.[243] In April 2018, he again criticized the U.S.-Saudi Arabia alliance, highlighting that "Saudi Arabia has funded radical madrassas, teaching hatred of America throughout the world, and that Saudi Arabia also supplied arms to ISIS in the Syrian civil war."[244] Paul said that U.S.-backed Saudi blockade of Yemen has further aggravated the humanitarian crisis in the country.[244]

Paul, like father, has also been a critic of neoconservatism,[245] and urged Trump to not choose prominent neoconservative Elliott Abrams to serve as Deputy Secretary of State.[246] In April 2018, Paul voted for the confirmation of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.[247] Paul had previously insisted that he would not confirm Pompeo, citing Pompeo's hawkish foreign policy beliefs.[248]

On June 12, 2017, U.S. senators reached an agreement on legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia and Iran. The bill was opposed only by Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders.[249] In July 2018, shortly after 12 Russian intelligence officers have been charged with hacking and leaking emails of senior Democrats, he described the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as a "witch hunt on the president".[250] That same month, Paul blocked a Senate resolution that backed the intelligence community's assessment of Russian election interference and called on President Trump to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller.[251] In May 2019, Paul opposed the decision of the Senate Intelligence committee, chaired by Republican Senator Richard Burr, to subpoena Donald Trump Jr., a close friend of Paul's, to testify in front of Congress about his involvement with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.[252]

During the 2016 Republican primary in the presidential election, Paul was highly critical of Trump. However, since then, Paul has "become one of the president’s closest allies despite occasionally voting against Trump's nominees and legislative proposals.."[173]

In July 2018, Paul was among only two Senators to vote against a Senate motion supporting NATO.[253]

On December 19, 2018, Paul supported the President's recent decision to pull the US army out from the Syrian Civil war by a Tweet [254]

In June 2019, Paul criticized Trump's administration for escalating tensions with Iran. Paul said: "One of the things I like about President Trump is that he said the Iraq War was a mistake. I think an Iran war would be even a bigger mistake than the Iraq War."[255][256]

Personal life

Paul with his family on the Capitol steps

Paul with his family on the Capitol steps

Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul at an event hosted in their honor at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul at an event hosted in their honor at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Paul is married to Kelley Paul (née Ashby), a freelance writer. They and their three sons reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky.[257] They are active members of the Presbyterian church.[258]

2017 assault

On November 3, 2017, Paul was assaulted by a neighbor, Rene Boucher (then aged 59), a retired anesthesiologist. Paul, who is deaf in one ear,[259] was wearing noise-cancelling headphones while mowing his lawn, enabling Boucher to blindside Paul.[260]

Boucher was arrested and charged with one count of fourth-degree assault and released on a $7,500 bond. Paul sustained five broken ribs, of which three were displaced fractures.[261][262]

Voter records from March 2017 showed Boucher registered as a Democrat, but his attorney, Matthew Baker, said there was no political motivation for the assault, descripting it as "a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial".[262][263]

Boucher was originally charged in Kentucky state court,[264] but was later charged in federal court, where he ultimately pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress.[265] Boucher was sentenced to 30 days in prison, one year of probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine; prosecutors had sought a 21-month term and have appealed the sentence.[265] The state-court charge was dismissed after Boucher pleaded guilty to the federal charge.[265] On January 30, 2019, a jury awarded Paul $582,834 for punitive damages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses; Boucher's attorney indicated he would appeal.[266] In August 2019, part of Paul's lung required removal as a result of the injuries he suffered during the attack.[267] In September 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated Boucher's sentence of 30 days, ruling it was unreasonably short, indicating "closer review" was in order, and remanded the case to the lower court for resentencing.[268]

Electoral history

Republican primary results[[CITE|269|https://openlibrary.org/search?q=Cite%20error%3A%20The%20named%20reference%20results.enr.clarit]]
RepublicanRand Paul206,98658.8%
RepublicanTrey Grayson124,86435.4%
RepublicanBill Johnson*7,8612.2%
RepublicanJohn Stephenson6,8852.0%
RepublicanGurley L. Martin2,8500.8%
RepublicanJon J. Scribner2,8290.8%
Total votes352,275100.0%
General election results
RepublicanRand Paul755,41155.69%+5.03%
DemocraticJack Conway599,61744.26%-5.12%
Total votes1,354,833100.00%
Republican holdSwing
Republican primary results[[CITE|270|http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/KY/61323/168222/Web01/en/summary.html]]
RepublicanRand Paul(Incumbent)169,18084.79%
RepublicanJames Gould16,6118.33%
RepublicanStephen Slaughter13,7286.88%
Total votes199,519100.00%
United States Senate election in Kentucky, 2016 [[CITE|271|http://elect.ky.gov/results/2010-2019/Documents/2016%20General%20Election%20Results.pdf]]
RepublicanRand Paul (incumbent)1,090,17757.27%+1.58%
DemocraticJim Gray813,24642.73%-1.53%
Total votes1,903,465100.0%N/A
Republican hold


  • The Tea Party Goes to Washington (February 2011) ISBN 1455503118

  • Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds (September 2012) ISBN 1455522759

  • Our Presidents & Their Prayers: Proclamations of Faith by America's Leaders (October 2015, co-authored with James Randall Robison) ISBN 1455535737

  • Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America (May 2015) ISBN 1455549576

See also

  • Physicians in the United States Congress

  • List of politicians affiliated with the Tea Party movement

  • Republican Party presidential candidates, 2016

  • List of United States Congress members killed or wounded in office


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