(CNN) - Republican Sen. Rand Paul returned half a million dollars from his office budget to the Treasury Department on Thursday, offering a relatively small chunk of cash to help pay off the massive federal debt, which totals more than $15 trillion.
Unveiling a check made out to "The U.S. Taxpayer" at an event in Louisville, the Kentucky senator said he hopes other members of Congress would follow his cost-cutting measures.
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"If every senator did the same and every congressman did the same, it would be about $130 million. And we've got to start somewhere," Paul said.
The $500,000 contribution amounted to about 16% of the freshman senator's $3 million annual budget.
Also at the event, Paul, whose father Ron Paul is a Republican presidential candidate, didn't beat back questions about a possible vice presidential run. The libertarian-leaning senator became a high-profile political figure after riding the tea party wave to his Senate seat in 2010.
Asked by a reporter if he'd consider joining the Republican nominee as a running mate, Paul didn't rule out the idea.
"I am interested in trying to shape direction and make our country more fiscally conservative," he said. "We'll have to see where it goes, right now I'm still supporting that guy from Texas we'll see how well he does."
Rep. Paul will compete in South Carolina's primary on January 21, hoping to slow down front-runner Mitt Romney's momentum in the GOP horserace. The former Massachusetts governor already won the first two Republican presidential nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.
- CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report.