We've got to hand it to Sen. Rand Paul. What began as his rejection of any new regulations on pipelines turned into an opportunity for the Kentucky freshman to toughen new rules proposed in response to last year's fatal pipeline explosion in California.
Paul, who had placed a hold on a pipeline safety bill, allowed the measure to go forward Monday after a provision was added requiring old pipelines to undergo the same pressure tests as newer pipelines.
The tests can detect weak welds, such as the one that ruptured last year, leading to an explosion that killed eight people.
After the San Bruno explosion, California ended the grandfather exemption for pre-1970s pipelines, but Paul's action extends the new testing requirement nationwide.
Paul also lifted his hold on an extension of benefits to elderly and disabled refugees, which enabled the measure to receive Senate approval Monday.
For two weeks, Paul had been the lone Senate opponent of the benefits extension, as elderly and disabled refugees were being cut off from Supplemental Security Income.
In exchange for Paul lifting his hold, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, agreed to allow a hearing on refugee resettlement at which Paul will testify and also request with Paul an Inspector General's investigation into why two accused Iraqi terrorists who settled in Bowling Green were allowed into the country.
Paul did the responsible thing by allowing the bills to advance and showing that he can be an effective policymaker, not just an ideologue.
Now if the House will only act as responsibly.