Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has backed President Donald Trump’s call to reduce foreign aid to Pakistan, and is prepared to work closely with the administration to help achieve this objective.
“I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been fighting to end aid to Pakistan for years and will again lead the charge in the Senate. Let’s make this happen,” Paul said in a tweet on Monday.
After Paul had a phone conversation with the President on this issue on Tuesday, he decided to elaborate his position further during an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News.
“You know, I think most Americans would support the President on this,” Paul said. “We don’t like to see our money going to countries that burn our flag. In Pakistan they incarcerate Christians – there’s a Christian, Asia Bibi, who has been on death row for five years.”
“They put Dr. Shakil Afridi in jail for 33 years – he’s the guy who helped us get Bin Laden. They seemed to look the other way when Bin Laden was there for over a decade. So yeah, I think Americans agree with the President, we ought to quit sending good money after bad, and what I discussed with the President is that I have an idea for using some of that money here at home: we’ve got bridges, we’ve got roads that need repair, why don’t we keep that money at home and put it into rebuilding our infrastructure here at home?”
While Paul refrained from divulging the details of his phone call with Trump, Paul stated that “[Trump has] talked a lot about infrastructure and not liking money going to Pakistan, so I think he’d probably be receptive to it, and I did tell him we’d introduce it next week, so we’ll see.”
Paul noted that although few in Washington favor the cuts, “President Trump has said repeatedly during his campaign, throughout his presidency, that we need to spend that money here at home, and I’m going to put legislation out there, and let’s see if we can get Congress to vote on spending that money here.”
Paul then slammed Pakistan for its purported sponsorship of terrorist organizations, as well as its widespread anti-American sentiment.
“I think at the very least, if you’re giving people money they ought to be your friend, they ought to behave, and they ought to be your ally.” Paul continued. “There’s some question whether Pakistani intelligence actually cooperates with the Haqqani network that actually kills our soldiers across the border in Afghanistan.”
“We also shouldn’t give money to countries that have mass protests, burning our flag, and where the government itself condones putting people in jail for basically gossip,” Paul added.
On the issue of his relationship with the President, he said that while “we fought tooth and nail during the presidential primary and we may have both said some things we’d both soon forget now, but there’s other things I agree with President Trump on very strongly – sending money to Pakistan, that being a mistake; that the Iraq war was a mistake.”
“Really, President Trump comes from a wing of the party that really strongly represents a lot of the things I’ve said, so it’s been easy for me to get a good relationship with him over time because there’s a lot of things we agree with,” Paul concluded.
Like Paul, Trump has often opposed foreign military intervention in the past, and continues to be unofficially advised by paleoconservatives such as former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who share Paul’s critique of George W. Bush-era foreign policy.