(FreedomWire.org) – Things got heated at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing when Rand Paul of Kentucky walked out over a procedural disagreement as Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona tried to cool tempers.

“If this is the way you’re going to run the committee, I would suggest that Republicans leave. I don’t see why we should stick around if you’re going to make up the rules,” Paul demanded of Peters after a heated back and forth. Paul proceeded to walk out of the room after the exchange.

Paul took issue after Peters used secondary amendments to effectively nulify amendments he offered to the bill that reauthorizes the U.S. Fire Administration, the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) Grants Program, and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program.

“I request a recorded vote,” Ranking Member Paul said. “I also have a second degree amendment and I recognize myself to offer a second degree amendment,” Committee Chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) replied. “My second degree amendment would direct — “

“Point of inquiry. Point of inquiry,” Paul interrupted. “ — GAO to issue an audit of the U.S Fire Administration — “ Peters continued.

“Point of inquiry,” Paul repeated.

“ — three years of enactment to continue improving — “ Peters carried on.

“Point of inquiry,” Paul insisted.

“Yes, go ahead,” Peters replied.

“We have, what, unlimited second degree amendments?” Paul asked.

“We have a second degree amendment, I’ve recognized myself for my second degree amendment,” Peters said.

“Your second degree amendment to a second degree amendment?” Paul asked.

“No, it’s a second degree amendment is being offered to the Scott Amendment,” Peters responded.

“No, I — I already called up a second degree amendment to the Scott Amendment,” Paul commented.

“You can’t call it up, senator,” Peters replied. “Only the chair can call it up.”

“Well, I was recognized to call it up the same way we have recognized for every other amendment,” Paul answered. “You recognized me and I called it up.”

“You were recognized to call it up for a vote,” Peters objected. “I will — only a chair can do that.”

“If this is the way you’re going to run the committee, I would suggest that Republicans leave. I don’t see why we should stick around if you’re going to make up the rules,” Paul said heatedly at one point.

The procedural argument turned increasingly hostile and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) tried to calm down the senators.

“You don’t have to escalate this to a situation where folks are walking out,” Sinema pleaded. “Now, we can just ask folks who can explain the rules to us and then we’ll follow them…”

“Who do we ask?” Paul asked. “Just the majority staff?”

“Let’s consult the folks,” Sinema said and pointed out towards the chamber. “I mean, the rules are written down. We can follow them. I don’t think that we need to escalate this to become a spectacle.”

But that’s exactly what Paul did. He gathered up his things and he walked out.

What was the argument about? Peters was using procedural tactics to keep Democrats on the committee from voting on the Republicans’ amendments to the Fire Grants and Safety Act.

According to Senator Peters’ official website, “The Fire Grants and Safety Act reauthorizes SAFER, AFG, and the USFA until 2030. It authorizes $95 million for USFA – a nearly $20 million increase from current levels, and maintains currently authorized levels of funding for the SAFER and AFG programs.”

As reported by The Hill, “Paul offered an amendment to make any fire department that terminated firefighters for refusing a COVID-19 vaccine or speaking out against the mandate ineligible for federal grants.  Under Paul’s proposal, fire departments that fired employees for refusing vaccines could become eligible for federal money by offering those individuals reinstatement and backpay.”

Peters offered second-degree amendments to the Republican-sponsored amendments that completely gutted their content.

As Paul stormed out of the room, Sinema urged senators to “take a couple minutes, lower the temperature, just figure out the procedure.”

“There’s no need for us to turn this committee hearing into a partisan, ugly place like we’ve seen in other committees,” she added.

(FreedomWire.org) – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said the Silicon Vally Bank (SVB) crisis could have been avoided, had the bank’s executives and federal regulators done their job on risk management.

Speaking on the Senate floor on March 15, Kennedy emphasized that SVB Bank wasn’t broke but it had a liquidity problem.

“If the management of Silicon Valley Bank had known the difference between a banking textbook and an L.L. Bean catalog, Silicon Valley Bank would have never bought securities that are so sensitive to interest rate[s] without hedging that risk, and it’s a very easy thing to do,” Kennedy said. “Honestly, it’s banking 101.”

To shore up its balance, SVB announced on March 8 that it had sold $21 billion worth of securities at a $1.75 billion loss and it would sell $2.25 billion in common equity and preferred convertible stock. The securities had lost much value after the Federal Reserve launched an aggressive campaign of interest rate increases last year.

SVB, the nation’s 16th largest bank with about $209 billion in total assets, collapsed on March 10, after depositors rushed to withdraw money over concerns about the bank’s solvency. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has now assumed control of the bank.

Aside from what bankers at SVB should have done, Kennedy said the crisis could have been prevented two other ways.

The Louisiana senator dismissed arguments from Democrats, who claimed that the bank’s failure was the result of a bill former President Donald Trump signed off in 2018 that rolled back the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act.

“There’s been a lot of talk about ‘Silicon Valley Bank wasn’t being regulated because of a bill passed back in 2018 or 2019.’ That’s not true,” he said. “Silicon Valley Bank was heavily regulated. It had to file regular reports with the federal banking regulators. It was subjected to stress testing. It was subjected to liquidity stress testing.”

Nevertheless, the senator noted that federal regulators did not do their job.

“Where were the regulators? Where were they?” he asked. “You couldn’t have found them with a search party.”

He added, “All regulators had to do was read the reports that Silicon Valley Bank was submitting, and they would have seen the problem.”

“I guess they were asleep, but this whole debacle could have been avoided if the regulators had just done their job and stepped in and said, ‘Silicon Valley Bank, what you’re doing is dumb, and you can’t do it anymore.’ That would have avoided it,” he said.

Kennedy, who serves on the Appropriations, Banking, Budget, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees, said the FDIC should have put in the work to find a buyer for SVB.

“There’s been a lot of talk about, well, they had an auction for the bank, and nobody wanted it. That’s not true,” Kennedy said. “There were buyers, but the problem was that the people at the FDIC do not like bank mergers.”

“Some bank mergers make sense. Some bank mergers don’t make sense. In this case, it would have made extraordinary sense. And, so, the folks at the FDIC stalled and re-stalled, and then we had mass panic,” he added.

On March 12, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and the FDIC issued a joint statement, saying that “depositors will have access to all of their money starting Monday, March 13.”

“No losses associated with the resolution of Silicon Valley Bank will be borne by the taxpayer,” the federal regulators said.

“So if we had done any one of those three things, any one of those three things, this mess could have been avoided,” Kennedy said.

Watch Sen. Kennedy’s speech here:

(FreedomWire.org) – After a short hospitalization due to “lightheadedness,” Democratic Senator John Fetterman from Pennsylvania is returning to the Senate following a stroke he experienced during his Senate campaign.

Joe Calvello, Fetterman’s spokesperson,  reported the following on his Twitter page.

“A few minutes ago, Senator Fetterman was discharged from the hospital. In addition to the CT, CTA and MRI tests ruling out a stroke, his EEG test results came back normal, with no evidence of seizures. John is looking forward to returning to the Senate on Monday.”

After spending three days in the hospital due to “lightheadedness,” concerns have arisen regarding the health of 53-year-old Senator Fetterman, according to The New York Times.

The article also reported that the transition from being a candidate to a senator has been challenging for Fetterman, as he faces the demands of both the campaign and the job.

The New York Times also said:

The latest health scare convinced his staff that Mr. Fetterman needs a better plan to take care of himself, both physically and emotionally.

Mr. Fetterman declined to be interviewed for this story. But aides and confidantes describe his introduction to the Senate as a difficult period, filled with unfamiliar duties that are taxing for someone still in recovery.

Those close to Senator Fetterman have reported that his transition into the Senate has been tough due to the unfamiliar and taxing duties of the job.

Adding to his difficulties is a neurological condition that impairs his hearing, forcing him to use a tablet to transcribe conversations. The condition is inconsistent and worsens in stressful or unfamiliar situations, leaving Fetterman feeling as though he is trying to understand the muffled voice of a character from the “Peanuts” cartoon.

“He has had to come to terms with the fact that he may have set himself back permanently by not taking the recommended amount of rest during the campaign.” The Times reported, “and he continues to push himself in ways that people close to him worry are detrimental.”

Minnesota Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar said the following after experimenting with the tablet at a Democratic caucus lunch:

“We’re going to have to learn our own styles with it, what I was saying was accurate even when I talked fast. I wanted to make sure it was accurate. It was kind of to imagine what it would be like to be him. He answers like you would answer anyone,” Klobuchar mentioned. “It’s us that have to get used to it; he’s used to it.”

Throughout the election season, the team around Fetterman maintained that their candidate was physically capable of serving in the Senate and had no lingering health concerns. They were wrong.

Senator Fetterman underwent a stroke less than a year ago, resulting in physical changes that challenged his political identity, specifically his machismo persona. Despite progress, the Senator feels frustrated that he has yet to fully recover to his former self.

Moreover, he is forced to accept the possibility of permanent setbacks, having potentially not rested enough during the campaign. Those close to him are worried he is pushing himself too hard and could cause harm.

(FreedomWire.org) – Democratic New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s stroke means that Democrats could be without their 50th Senate vote for weeks, potentially imperiling their ability to move forward on their priorities.

Democrats have the slimmest of Senate majorities, with their tie-breaking vote coming from Vice President Kamala Harris. And while Luján’s staff said that the senator, 49, is expected to make a complete recovery, his absence means that Republicans could have a 50-49 edge.

That advantage means that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is hamstrung when it comes to passing legislation or confirming nominees that do not have significant bipartisan support. Democrats’ Build Back Better Act, for example, is now doomed for the foreseeable future, even if Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin were to reverse his position and offer it his total endorsement.

The effects of Luján’s absence was already seen in the Senate Commerce Committee, of which he is a member. The committee planned to vote on and advance the nominations of Gigi Sohn to be a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Alvaro Bedoya to be a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Mary Boyle to be a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but the plans were immediately delayed since Luján’s vote is necessary to advance their nominations to the full chamber.

If Sohn is confirmed, then Democrats would have a majority at the FCC for the first time since President Joe Biden took office.

Luján’s absence could also further imperil Democrats’ hopes of passing a China competitiveness bill before Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, given the House and Senate’s differences on an ideal package and Republicans’ slight edge. (RELATED: Republicans Staunchly Opposed To House Dems’ China Bill, Potentially Delaying Its Passage)

Instead, his absence could force prioritization of must-pass or potentially bipartisan bills, including a broader government funding package and a sweeping sanctions bill against Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

Luján’s absence, however, may not have an immediate impact on the coming Supreme Court confirmation battle. Since he does not serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrats still have the votes necessary to advance whomever Biden nominates, and a Senate-wide vote could be weeks, if not months away.

If Luján is away for months, then Democrats could need at least one Republican vote, but there are several who have said that they are potentially open to confirming a Democratic nominee.