U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to voters at the Heritage Action Presidential Candidate Forum in Greenville, S.C. on Sept. 18, 2015.
Sean Rayford—Getty Images
By Sen. Rand Paul
September 21, 2015
IDEAS
Paul is the junior U.S. Senator for Kentucky.

When I ran for office, I ran in opposition to the establishment and the politicians in both parties. Bank bailouts, Obamacare, and a failure to stand up and fight were among my main complaints, and these were many of the same frustrations that moved people to start the Tea Party.

Frankly, I just got sick of throwing things at my television and decided to do something about it by running for office. I took on the special interests and Washington Machine, and I won.

Since I’ve been in Washington, let me tell you, it is every bit as bad as I feared. It’s why so many people—myself included—are angry and challenging the status quo.

At first, we were told that we couldn’t fight for change because we didn’t control the Senate. Now we are told we can’t take a stand until we win the Presidency. I’m tired of waiting—it’s time to stand and fight for the principles of limited government that voters sent us to office to defend.

This week will be a crucial test. Putting forward a “continuing resolution” is simply more of the status quo: More debt, more Obamacare, more funding of Planned Parenthood.

I won’t vote to continue borrowing and spending a million dollars a minute. I urge the leaders of my party to do something different: to take the offensive for our beliefs rather than surrendering before the battle begins.

Too often Washington looks like two sides of the same coin to the American people. We have a chance to change that and we must act this week.

I hear our leaders preaching of the necessity of 60 votes to defund anything. This is a warped and completely backwards mis-reading of our role. Spending ends automatically with the end of the fiscal year. We should state clearly and boldly that any spending moving forward will take 60 votes. Instead of preemptively announcing defeat, we should take a stand and put forward 12 individual spending bills with hundreds of instructions to cut wasteful spending and eliminate funding for outrageous regulations.

The burden of 60 votes to pass a bill in the Senate then works in our favor. Unless Democrats can gather 60 votes, most wasteful spending will fail and—with certainty—offensive spending like that of Planned Parenthood will fail.

Every year Congress is supposed to pass bills that fund government. They don’t, of course, and they haven’t in many decades. It’s among the many reasons Congress has a 14% approval rating. Frankly I can’t believe it’s that high.

Congress can and should pass 12 spending bills. They can and should remove funding for wasteful and fraudulent programs. They can and should remove funding for Obamacare. They can and should remove funding for Planned Parenthood. Don’t put it in there in the first place.

Instead of trying to get 60 votes to defund something, we should announce that it from now on it will take 60 votes to spend money. To win that battle will take courage, something in short supply in our nation’s capital.

It is time to take a stand, to use the power of the majority to bring to the floor spending bills that assert Congress’ power of the purse. If Democrats won’t vote to cut wasteful spending, then they will be responsible for shutting down government.

Are they willing to shut down the 95% of government that would be funded just to save the extreme 5% that shouldn’t ever be funded?

If so, it’s on them, not us. We will have done our job, something Congress has rarely—if ever—been able to say.

I ran for office because I was unhappy about Washington. The more I see Washington, the more unhappy I am. Our government is dysfunctional and doesn’t work. I’m a huge proponent of term limits and would throw everybody out, myself included.

We need to start fresh. We need term limits. Twelve years is more than enough time in the Senate, and more than enough time in the House. The status quo remains because the same people remain, decade after decade. I think sometimes they harken back to electorates that elected them decades ago—that’s not today’s electorate.

The public is about a decade ahead of government. Right now, people are upset and unhappy and justifiably so. The people want us to act, not to cower in the corner while Democrats continue to spend recklessly and fund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

The American people voted in a Republican Congress because they wanted change. It’s time for our leaders to lead, and for Congressmen and Senators to stand up and do what the American people sent them here to do.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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