Republican Senator Lindsey Graham wants assurance from the Senate’s Democratic leader prior to voting on the successful House debt ceiling bill, potentially plunging the United States into default unless more financial aid is provided to Ukraine and the U.S. military.
Graham made an impassioned speech Thursday on the Senate floor, saying small increases in fiscal year defense spending are not part of a “threat-based budget” but one that lacks safety and security for Americans. He later said that a supplemental defense budget for Ukraine and other spending must be agreed upon swiftly by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to make up for the House GOP’s below-inflation 3 percent military increase.
The defense spending caps for the deal that passed the House Wednesday and raised the nation’s borrowing limit via a 314-117 vote include a 3 percent increase from current levels to $886 billion in fiscal year 2024, according to Roll Call, just a 1 percent increase from fiscal year 2024 to 2025.
“To my House colleagues: I can’t believe you did this. To the Speaker: I know you got a tough job, I like you, but the party of Ronald Reagan is dying.”
— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says the new budget bill and its military funding is a “win for China” pic.twitter.com/4K4W4RObYS
— The Recount (@therecount) June 1, 2023
“I’m not going to let us default, but I’m not going to destroy our military in the name of raising the debt,” Graham told reporters, according to the Washington Examiner.
One of his amendments would raise the debt ceiling for 90 days, “no strings attached,” he added, imploring colleagues to get tougher on China and not throw a “lifeline” to Vladimir Putin.
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a press conference at an open-air exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles in Kyiv, on May 26, 2023. Graham wants additional defense spending for Ukraine and the U.S. military after the House GOP-executed legislation did not meet his standards.
The Biden administration and the U.S. Congress have directed more than $75 billion in humanitarian, financial and military assistance to Ukraine, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German research institute.
“To my House colleagues: I can’t believe you did this,” Graham said on the floor. “To the Speaker [Kevin McCarthy]: I know you got a tough job, I like you, but the party of Ronald Reagan is dying.”
He later told CNN’s Manu Raju that the House plan is the “most ill-conceived” idea since across-the-board budget cuts occurred in 2011, saying he “wouldn’t let them buy me a car.”
However, if classified as emergency funding—which President Biden signed into law in May 2022—Ukraine spending would not count towards the cap.
Other Republican senators, including Mike Lee of Utah and Josh Hawley of Missouri, said they were not thrilled with the legislation that passed in the House but will live with what’s in front of them prior to the June 5 deadline. “I don’t see any reason to drag this out at this point,” Hawley told reporters.
“I’d like to be spending more on defense and believe with emergency supplemental we’ll be able to do that,” said Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. “Clearly our support for Ukraine will be outside the budget, as it has been in the past, but I’d like to see additional support for our own military in emergency supplementals as well.”