Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) walked into hostile territory yesterday morning, so to speak, delivering a speech at Howard University about how the Republican Party really was friendly to the needs and desires of minority voters.
Despite a few gaffes — he did lecture an audience that knew plenty about black history on black history — the speech wasn’t bad; Paul strongly argued that he was in favor of doing away with the worst of the drug war, for one, which disproportionately affects young black men. He also indicated that school choice — charters and the such — gave low-income residents a chance at escaping dismal urban public schools, an issue that has obvious relevance in D.C.
Where Paul fell short, though, was on D.C. autonomy.
Let’s rewind: It was last year that the Kentucky senator added three amendments to a bill that would have granted D.C. budget autonomy. One amendment would have allowed residents to carry concealed weapons, one would have formalized the prohibition on the use of local funds for abortions, and a third would have prohibited discrimination for jobs based on membership in a union. Needless to say, the bill quietly died thereafter.
After today’s speech, Joshua Matfess, a D.C. Vote volunteer from American University, asked a relevant question: How did these three amendments gel with Paul’s insistence that the Republican Party is all about letting people govern themselves?
Paul started by claiming that his amendments weren’t meant to kill the bill. “I didn’t kill any D.C. autonomy bill,” he claimed. “They could have had a vote at any time, I had no power to stop any legislation. I’m in the minority, and I put on amendments that they did not want to vote on. So they perceived that as killing the bill, but my intention was to get votes on some amendments.”
[Continue reading Martin Austermuhle’s post at DCist.com.]