Lindsey Graham warns Kevin McCarthy on debt ceiling deal: ‘Biggest winner of Biden defense budget is China’

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., against slashing the defense budget in order to reach a deal on the debt ceiling. 

“Number one, I respect Kevin McCarthy. I want to raise the debt ceiling. It would be irresponsible not to do it. I want to control spending. I’d like to have a smaller IRS. I’d like to claw back the unused COVID money. I know you can’t get the perfect – but what I will not do is adopt the Biden defense budget and call it a success,” Graham told “Fox News Sunday” host Shannon Bream. “Kevin said that the defense is fully funded. If we adopt the Biden defense budget, it increases defense spending below inflation – 3.2% increase in defense is below inflation.” 

Graham said the “Biden defense budget” would cut the number of ships in the U.S. Navy from 298 to 291 at a time when China is going to increase their Navy by nearly a third. 

“The Biden defense budget was a joke before, and if we adopt it as Republicans we will be doing a great disservice to the party of Ronald Reagan. The biggest winner of the Biden defense budget is China because they’ll have a bigger navy; and it will be Putin,” Graham claimed. “There’s nothing in the budget for Biden to help Ukraine win a war that they’re on the verge of driving the Russians out. So I like Kevin a lot, but don’t tell me that the Biden defense budget fully funds the military.” 

DEBT CEILING AGREEMENT IN PRINCIPLE REACHED BETWEEN DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS

Graham in Ukraine

Sen. Lindsey Graham during a press conference at an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles in Kyiv, on May 26, 2023. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)

“The overmatch with China is real. The Biden defense budget makes it even worse for us. I look forward to the details, but if you send me the Biden defense budget to the United States Senate and declare it fully funds the military, you will have a hard time with me,” Graham told “Fox News Sunday.” 

“This is sequestration, potentially, 2.0. In 2011, my good friend Mitch McConnell negotiated the deal with Joe Biden that virtually destroyed the Defense Department in the name of raising the debt ceiling. If this is another round of sequestration, not only will I vote no, I will not be intimidated by June 5,” Graham said. 

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is surrounded by reporters

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks to members of the media after arriving at the U.S. Capitol on May 26, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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“If you don’t see the connection between Ukraine and China, you’re missing a lot,” Graham said. “We need more defense spending. They’re right about the weapons. We need to increase our arsenal. We have multiple threats. Let’s help Ukraine defeat Putin. End the war on favorable terms in Ukraine, you’ll make China less likely to invade Taiwan. The defense budget that they’re proposing as part of this deal makes it impossible for us to do the things we need to do. You’re reducing defense spending at a time we need more of it.” 

Graham in Congress

Sen. Lindsey Graham said he would not be threatened by the June 5 deadline in choosing whether to support the agreement House Speaker Kevin McCarthy brokered with Democrats on the debt ceiling. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Though the details of the deal remain unclear, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said in a statement that President Biden has announced an agreement in principle regarding the debt ceiling and that the agreement will be finalized once legislative text prepared by House Republicans has been reviewed by the Biden administration. 

Biden and McCarthy are scheduled to speak in order to complete the agreement no later than 2 p.m. ET. 



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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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