February 20, 2024

Senators from Both Parties Turning Against GOP Leader Lindsey Graham

Republican and Democratic senators who have collaborated closely with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are expressing frustration over his decision to oppose a $95 billion defense and foreign aid package.

Supporters of the bill viewed Graham's endorsement as pivotal to garnering a majority of Republican senators in its favor and applying pressure on Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to bring it to the House floor.

With Graham voting against the bill, despite 22 GOP votes in favor, it fell short of its objective and is now deemed unlikely to pass the House.

Senators who had relied on Graham's support feel betrayed, particularly given his previous advocacy for funding the war in Ukraine.

Some perceive Graham's reversal as an attempt to align himself with former President Trump, who actively lobbied senators to oppose the package to deny President Biden a political victory.

One Democratic senator involved in strategizing for the bill expressed disappointment, stating that Graham was expected to help secure additional Republican support. However, Graham's shift in stance left colleagues feeling let down and perplexed.

Graham's opposition to the defense bill has frustrated colleagues, especially considering his prior efforts to secure funding for Ukraine. His vocal support for Ukraine on the Senate floor in June led to a commitment from Senate leaders not to let spending caps impede emergency defense spending for Ukraine.

The bill Graham opposed included substantial funding for Ukraine, as well as provisions to address Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region. Administration officials emphasized the urgency of supplying military aid to Ukraine due to dwindling supplies and increased Russian aggression.

Graham has cited concerns about border security to justify his opposition to the bill, arguing that funding should prioritize domestic needs. However, some colleagues find his shifting stance concerning and puzzling.

Despite their frustrations, senators speaking to The Hill requested anonymity to candidly express their concerns without fear of reprisal from Graham.

In response to criticism, Graham defended his position as a principled stand to pressure President Biden and Democrats to address border security issues before allocating funds to foreign aid as senators on both sides increasingly view Graham as a problem.

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