Rand Paul brings colorful props to Senate floor to call out wasteful research: 'Lizards on a Treadmill'

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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., arrived on the Senate floor Friday morning accompanied by a stack of colorful poster boards to rail against “ridiculous” taxpayer-funded research at the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies.

Paul, a fiscal conservative, delivered a 32-minute speech Friday morning to oppose the bipartisan Endless Frontier Act that would expand science and technology research that proponents say will help the U.S. counter China. Paul warned of the $28 trillion national debt and said the U.S. should be reining in wasteful spending and not borrowing more money from China to fund such legislation. 

“I don’t think this bill makes us stronger. In fact, I think the Chinese sit back … and laugh at America thinking we’re going to be stronger by borrowing more money from China,” Paul said. “So I just don’t think it makes us any stronger at all. I think it makes us weaker. It would be one thing if it weren’t being so horribly wasted.”

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To make his point about wasteful spending, Paul cracked out a number of poster boards to highlight specific research projects that he said taxpayers would be astounded to know their dollars are funding. Among the projects he highlighted were: $357,000 to study “Cocaine and Risky Sex Habits of Quail” and $1.6 million for researching “Lizards on a Treadmill.” 

One poster board featured legendary singer Dolly Parton to highlight that Uncle Sam is spending $250,000 to send “kids in Pakistan to Space Camp and Dollywood.” Another claimed the National Science Foundation siphoned off $700,000 from an autism research grant to figure out whether astronaut Neil Armstrong used the word “a” when he landed on the moon in 1969 in his famous “one giant leap for mankind” quote.

Paul returned for a brief 7-minute encore speech later in the morning and then passed the baton to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who also raised spending concerns on the legislation. Paul went after waste at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including “$2 million in research to see if using a hot tub can lower stress” and said the federal government also spent “$3 million to study whether or not humans will eat enough ants to keep the globe from warming.”

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Paul said Americans may be alarmed by such frivolous studies, but it happens routinely “because we never vote for less money. It’s always more.”

“Somebody’s got to point out that the waste and abuse of money goes on,” Paul said. 

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After Paul’s speech, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the Senate will table a final vote on the research and innovation legislation until after the Memorial Day holiday so the Senate can move on to a vote Friday on forming a Jan. 6 commission to investigate the Capitol riot. 

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