Rand Paul, Republican Senator from Kentucky and son of Ron, is taking a stand against the Senate's pipeline safety bill that would strengthen federal safety regulations in the wake of the deadly PG&E pipeline explosion in San Bruno last year. Paul, it seems, isn't so much opposed to the idea of safer pipelines - just the idea that the federal government should be allowed to impose regulations that could have prevented a tragedy like the one in San Bruno.
Even though support for the bill has come from literally every other member of the Senate, as well as trade associations in the natural gas and oil industries, and even companies in Paul's home state of Kentucky where a gas pipeline ruptured just last week, Senator Paul could still smother its passage. An Associated Press report explains:
The bill's main sponsors... have been trying to bring it to the Senate floor for passage by "unanimous consent," essentially a voice vote. That requires Democratic and Republican leaders to check with each of their party members for objections.
Originally Senator Paul and fellow anti-Government Stalwart Tom Coburn of Oklahoma both spoke out against the measure, but Sen. Coburn has since withdrawn his opposition, leaving Rand Paul holding the last flaming hoop for the bill to jump through. "As a practical matter," the AP explains, "safety regulations that can't be approved quickly wind up languishing indefinitely."
At least one congressional scholar called Paul's principled (but stubborn) political move and a single senator's ability to hold up such a widely supported bill, "an indication of how dysfunctional the Senate has become."