During recent debate in the Senate over the latest funding bills for the nation’s defense apparatus for the upcoming fiscal year, the chamber provided its overwhelming approval for an amendment sponsored by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) that establishes new protections for U.S. military personnel against predatory practices by debt collectors.
A full 95 Senators voted in favor of the amendment, and only two — GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) — registered their opposition. It’s unclear what their explanations for their opposition may actually be, as no Senator shared statements in opposition during debate in the Senate on Warnock’s proposal, which the Georgian discussed during the remarks he did offer as a bipartisan effort of Senators from around the country. Warnock also pointed to the potential impacts on the mental health of military personnel from predatory practices by debt collectors, saying that some have threatened servicemembers with punishments inside the military’s system of accountability and justice that the debt collectors themselves can’t actually impose.
“Mr. President, servicemembers report being harassed by predatory debt collectors at a higher rate than the civilian population,” Warnock said. “Predatory and unscrupulous debt collectors send messages to commanding officers with their private financial information, all in an effort to harass our men and women in uniform–the best among us standing up for us. They harass servicemembers by threatening rank reduction–the debt collectors–revocation of security clearance, or punishment under the military justice code. These threats cannot be carried out by the debt collectors, and these practices are manipulative, and they undermine our national security by distracting our servicemembers from focusing on their mission and caring for their families.”
During this same debate, Paul proposed an amendment of his own that would have established new investigative processes for oversight of the aid that the U.S. has been providing to Ukraine amid its war with Russia, assistance that has largely consisted of weapons. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) questioned whether establishing a new framework for oversight could cripplingly divert resources from those in power already doing similar work, and most of the Senate rejected Paul’s proposal.