WASHINGTON — Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul defied leaders of both parties Thursday and single-handedly delayed until next week Senate approval of an additional $40 billion to help Ukraine and its allies withstand Russia’s three-month old invasion. With the Senate poised to debate and vote on the package of military and economic aid, Paul denied leaders the unanimous agreement they needed to proceed. The bipartisan measure, backed by President Joe Biden, underscores U.S. determination to reinforce its support for Ukraine’s outnumbered forces. The legislation has been approved overwhelmingly by the House and has strong bipartisan support in the Senate. Final passage is not in doubt. Even so, Paul’s objection was an audacious departure from an overwhelming sentiment in Congress that quickly helping Ukraine was urgent, both for that nation’s prospects of withstanding Vladimir Putin’s brutal attack and for discouraging the Russian president from escalating or widening the war. It was also a brazen rebellion against his fellow Kentucky Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell began Thursday’s session by saying senators from “both sides” — meaning Republicans and Democrats — needed to “help us pass this urgent funding bill today,” gesturing emphatically as he said “today.” Paul, a libertarian who often opposes U.S. intervention abroad, said he wanted language inserted into the bill, without a vote, that would have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending. He has a long history of demanding last-minute changes by holding up or threatening to delay bills on the brink of passage, including measures dealing with lynching, the defense budget and providing health care to the Sept. 11 attack first responders. Democrats and McConnell opposed Paul’s push and offered to have a vote on his language. Paul was likely to lose that vote and rejected the offer. He argued that the added spending was a significant sum that would deepen federal deficits and worsen inflation. Last year’s budget deficit was almost $2.8 trillion but likely headed downward, and the bill’s spending is less than two-tenths of 1% the size of the U.S. economy, suggesting its impact on inflation would be negligible. “No matter how sympathetic the cause, my oath of office is to the national security of the United States of America,” Paul said. “We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy.” Democrats said they were objecting to Paul’s plan because it would expand the powers of an existing inspector general whose current purview is limited to Afghanistan. That would deny Biden the chance past presidents have had to appoint the person to the post, they said. “It’s clear from the junior senator from Kentucky’s remarks, he doesn’t want to aid Ukraine,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., “All he will accomplish with his actions here today is to delay that aid, not to stop it.” Underscoring their joint desire to approve the bill immediately, Schumer and McConnell stood nearly side-by-side as they tried pushing the legislation forward. “They’re only asking for the resources they need to defend themselves against this deranged i . . . read the full article here.