Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has been on a legislative spree over the past few weeks. But he has some interesting new goals.
The man who used to introduce bills that would audit the Federal Reserve, or prohibit funds to Egypt, or modify port regulations for the Army Corps of Engineers is now dedicating his legislative energy to solving problems that are also the stories of the week.
Last week, Paul introduced a bill that would restrict some federal funding for “sanctuary cities,” or localities that don’t comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement orders to indefinitely detain potential immigrants living in the US without citizenship.
The bill was a direct response to the murder of Kathyrn Steinle, 32, who police say was killed by a Mexican immigrant living in the United States without citizenship. The man police suspect of killing her, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had been deported multiple times, and had an ICE detainer request out for him.
The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel reports that Paul will also introduce a bill as soon as this week that will allow soldiers to carry guns on military bases and at recruiting centres. It comes only a week after a shooting at a military-reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, left five dead.
And Paul said on Tuesday that he will attach an amendment to an upcoming piece of legislation that would de-fund the organisation Planned Parenthood. He introduced the amendment on Wednesday, saying he would attach it to upcoming legislation to extend funding for the Highway Trust Fund.
Many of these issues square with Paul’s history. As Weigel observed, Paul has advocated for guns on military bases in the past and has a fairly cosy relationship with the National Rifle Association and other gun groups due to his opposition to high-profile gun-control measures.
But advocates say the sanctuary cities legislation seems to clash with his advocacy for criminal-justice reform.
Paul has been one of the loudest advocates on the right for prison and sentencing reform. He has called repeatedly for rolling back mandatory-minimum sentences for non-violent offenders, claiming these measures will unclog US prisons and help families stay together to better work their way out of poverty.
“We’ve got all this energy from lawmakers to fixate on blaming an entire community for the actions of a few isolated individuals,” Avideh Moussavian, a policy attorney at the pro-immigrant National Immigration Law Center, told Business Insider.
“Good policies come from deliberative thinking as to what’s effective, as opposed to wholesale criminalization and scapegoating a whole population,” Moussavian added.
But it’s undeniable that Paul is engaging with issues at the forefront of the national conversation, especially ones that resonate with more conservative media.
Paul’s campaign hasn’t been receiving as much attention since launching earlier this year, and he has been drowned out by the recent rise of real-estate magnate Donald Trump. Case in point: On Tuesday, Paul’s campaign released a video of him shredding the tax code with a wood-chipper and a chainsaw.
The campaign hasn’t throw too many elbows, aside from knocking more hawkish opponents during his push to eliminate the National Security Agency’s telephone metadata collection program earlier this year. He’s also been surprisingly silent in comparison to some other GOP rivals, and is often significantly slower to release statements following big news events like the Supreme Court’s dual gay marriage and healthcare rulings and the recent Iranian nuclear deal.
CNN reports that Paul’s campaign feels that the press has been chasing ephemeral stories and ignoring the work that Paul is putting into the early-voting states.
Paul’s Senate office did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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