FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - United States Senator Rand Paul wants to be able to run for president in 2016 while defending his seat in Congress, and a Republican-dominated Senate committee on Wednesday took a step toward letting him do that.
Paul, who is widely considered to be a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, would be able to run for his own seat and either president or vice president under Senate Republican Leader Damon Thayer's bill.
It passed in committee by a vote of 8-2, with one Democrat joining Republicans in favor of the measure.
"I believe, as (Paul) does, that he can run for both the Senate and the presidency right now, but I wanted to file this bill to give clarity to the situation," Thayer said.
Thayer changed his bill Wednesday to be identical to Wisconsin law, which allowed U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan to run for his congressional seat and the vice presidency in 2012.
The amendment dictates that a candidate may only run for two offices when one of them is the presidency or vice presidency. Previously, Thayer's bill had allowed the exception as long as one office was a federal office.
"I just can't get past the fact that it seems to be kind of special legislation," said Democratic Senate Leader R.J. Palmer, who voted against the bill.
Paul and his supporters have repeatedly asked state lawmakers to approve such legislation.
"Federal law governs federal elections, and the Supreme Court has made it clear that states cannot impose additional qualifications beyond those in the Constitution," Paul said Wednesday in a statement. "We are not seeking to change the law, but rather to clarify that the Kentucky statute does not apply to federal elections. We thank Sen. Thayer for taking this step in clarifying this issue."
The bill now moves to the Senate. Democratic House leaders have said they do not support the measure.
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