U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said on a swing through Nashville that he may co-sponsor U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn's proposal to regulate Tennessee Walking Horses, adding that an alternative plan by a fellow Kentucky lawmaker is too intrusive.
The first-term Republican senator from Bowling Green, Ky., said in an interview Monday that he has ruled out backing a bill filed by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., that would step up federal inspections of walking horses. He added that he still is studying legislation put forward by Blackburn, R-Brentwood, that would increase scientific testing of walking horses but not the frequency of manual inspections.
Blackburn's bill, House Resolution 4098, is favored by Walking Horse trainers and has been co-sponsored by nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including the six other Republicans from Tennessee.
Blackburn said she's spoken with Paul and a few other senators about being the primary sponsor of her bill in the Senate. Paul said he would decide whether to sign onto the bill sometime this week.
"I think government can go too far, even for a good purpose," Paul said. "No one wants to see horses tortured or mistreated in any way, but I think the Tennessee Walking Horse (industry) has come a long way in self-policing."
Paul spoke to reporters after appearing with Blackburn at a private event held in the offices of the Waller law firm in downtown Nashville. A potential candidate for president in 2016, Paul said he did not hold any fund-raisers in the city while passing through.
Instead, he said came to talk with business executives about his efforts to strengthen privacy laws as governments and corporations collect more and more data on individuals. Blackburn has become involved in the issue through her role as co-chair of a bipartisan task force on privacy put together by the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
That group has had to cancel about half of the 10 meetings it has scheduled since August, in part because of bad weather this winter and the federal shutdown last fall, and Blackburn told Politico recentlythat it may not produce any legislation.
Blackburn and Paul are scheduled to appear together again in New Hampshire next month, when they'll both be speakers at a "Freedom Summit" organized by Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity. The engagement has fueled chatter that Paul will run for president in 2016 and put Blackburn's name on lists of potential candidates.
Paul said he's still weighing the possibility, but Blackburn dismissed the possibility.
"No grand delusions about 2016," she said. "Just always a foot soldier in the fight for freedom."