Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox News @ Night,” while Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was conducting a filibuster and holding up a vote in the U.S. Senate that might have prevented a government shutdown, Paul’s colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was criticizing him for the filibuster and for his motivations.
Graham told host Shannon Bream that Paul’s filibuster was a “dangerous thing” and laid out where the junior Kentucky senator was in his view wrong on policy.
Partial transcript as follows:
BREAM: We’re joined now by Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham, who had just walked out the Senate floor. What is the mood like over there? Because I got to say, I think that your colleague, Senator Rand Paul, has done something that it’s been tough to do lately, which is to get bipartisan agreement on something. Everybody’s mad at him, including you?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, it’s not that I’m mad at Rand. He’s very sincere. But I think he’s doing a very dangerous thing. To President Trump, if you’re watching tonight —
BREAM: I’m sure he is.
GRAHAM: — thank you and God bless you for fighting for the men and women in the military. By the sunrise tomorrow, I won’t get much sleep, but the military will have $160 billion they desperately need. We’re spending at an all-time low on our military since World War II, more people have been killed in training accidents than in combat. And Donald Trump is delivering on his campaign process to rebuild the military. General Mattis like this budget deal.
And to Senator Paul, the deficit is a problem, the debt is a problem. Entitlement reform is necessary and I applaud you for being courageous enough to talk about delaying retirement and mean testing benefits but on national security, you have been wrong at every turn. You do not understand what our military has been faking since 2011. There are planes that can’t fly, there are soldiers that can’t deploy, there are families that have to miss their family members way too much because we don’t have enough people in the army and navy and air force and marine corps, and we’re about to finish it. So he can play his little games, but when the sun comes up tomorrow, the military is going to be flush with cash and God bless those who are doing the fighting.
BREAM: All right. They’re not the only ones, though. Because this is a record-breaking spending package. There are plenty — well, according to all of the numbers and history until now — I mean, this is going to be the biggest package out there and a lot of that is domestic spending, as well, and the Democrats have gotten a lot of what they ask for on that front. So you know there are deficit hawks out there. Rand Paul is not alone. There are plenty of folks over in the House side too that have big problems with it and say that’s not why the GOP was sent to Washington, they were sent to cut back government and cut back spending and this package, they say, doesn’t do it.
GRAHAM: I don’t know why they were sent, but I know I was sent from South Carolina to make sure we can defend the nation. The number one priority of the federal government above all else is to defend the nation. Look at the threats we face. There’s a war going on in Afghanistan. President Trump has taken the gloves off and we’re pounding ISIL, we’re pounding the Taliban. God Bless you, President Trump. And you’re fighting for those who need more money and more resources, more people in the military to help those who have suffered so long. So this is the number one priority. I’m a Republican. The number one priority is to find the military and this will do it.
BREAM: What do you say to those, though, including some military leaders in the past who have said, the national debt and where we are, with respect to China and other countries that own us in some sense, that’s a national security issue, as well?
GRAHAM: Go where the money is at. Two-thirds of the federal budget is Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid and interest on the debt. One- third of the federal budget is discretionary spending. Half of that one- third is military spending. You could wipe out the department of defense, not balance the budget. You got to delay retirement for young people, you got to ask people like me to pay more into Medicare and take less from Social Security. Rand Paul knows that. I congratulate him for being strong on entitlements, but when it comes to national security, he’s been a disaster.
He said tonight, the best way to get the military a pay raise is withdraw from Afghanistan. Name one general who believes that smart to withdraw from Afghanistan. President Trump, you’re doing the right thing by taking the fight to the enemy in Afghanistan. The last time — nor Afghanistan, we got 9/11. And the only way you’re going to prevent 9/11s ion the future is to have our soldiers over there protecting us here and our military has suffered since 2011 under these budget cuts and tonight we begin to correct that problem. God bless Donald Trump and Rand Paul is standing in the way of President Trump commander in chief Trump, for filling the campaign promise to rebuild the military.
And General Mattis said the following. “No enemy in the field has done more damage to the American military than the budget cuts and continue in resolutions authored by Congress.” So Congress has done more damage to our military than any enemy in the field and that’s going to change tonight.
BREAM: OK. So for you, the price tag is not a concern, the long-term impact on the deficit.
GRAHAM: The long-term impact that the deficit comes from entitlement reform. You could wipe out the department of defense had not even move the debt needle. Here’s what I’m saying, when it comes to military spending, it’s the most important thing we’ve done. We’re spending less on the military GDP-wise that any time since World War II. Does that really make sense to have the smallest navy since 1915, the smallest army since 1940? General Mattis has been begging us to get off the sidelines and get back in the game and give the warfighter what they need.
President Trump listens to the general. The rest of us have listened to the general. Senator Paul thinks he knows more about the military than those who are in the military, he’s never been to Afghanistan, so I don’t want to hear from him what it takes to win a war in Afghanistan when he’s never been there.
BREAM: Well, he says he’s listening to his constituents. He’s not the only one. So let me ask you —
GRAHAM: I don’t know whose constituents are, but they’re not my constituents.
BREAM: OK. Well, you do come from two different states. South Carolina and Kentucky.
GRAHAM: Senator McConnell is listening to people in Kentucky.
BREAM: You got to go back over there now. And you guys got to get back to work.
GRAHAM: I am going to fight for our military. For those in the military, by the sunrise tomorrow, you are going to have more resources, your commander in chief is coming to your aid and Congress is going to clean up its act.
BREAM: Are y’all going to hug it out? Will there be a Kumbaya moment at some point?
GRAHAM: It ain’t about him, it ain’t about me, it’s about those who are doing the fighting. We’re nobodies when it comes to the war on terrorism. Nobody in Congress is going to protect your family from radical Islam. The people in the field doing the fighting are going to protect you from radical Islam. And tonight, Congress is going to finally help them after seven years of doing nothing.
BREAM: Well, you have spent many decades in the military as well.
GRAHAM: Thirty-three years.
BREAM: Good to see you. Fired up. And I like that, because now you have energy.
GRAHAM: Fired up. Ready to go, ready to vote.
BREAM: You’ve got the energy to go back and work past midnight. Past to your bedtime.
GRAHAM: They got the energy to fight, I got the energy to vote.
BREAM: All right. Senator Graham, good to see you.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
BREAM: Thanks for coming on.
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