Congressional Spotlight: Senator Lindsey Graham

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Lindsey Graham is the senior U.S. Senator from South Carolina. Graham earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina. Graham was first elected to the Senate in 2002, and prior to serving in the Senate, Graham was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.

Throughout his life, Senator Graham has compiled a distinguished record in the United States Air Force, as he logged six and a half years as an Air Force lawyer and served in the South Carolina Air National Guard and the U.S Air Force Reserves.

Senator Graham sits on multiple committees in the Senate, including Appropriations, Armed Services, Budget and Judiciary. He is the chairman of the subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. The subcommittee oversees the U.S. State Department, USAID, The Peace Corps, International Financial Institutions and oversees United Nations activities.

Since the beginning of the Trump administration, Senator Lindsey Graham has been vocal about the administration’s attempts to lower the State Department budget and other agencies that deal with foreign aid. After the Trump administration revealed in its proposed 2018 budget that it would increase defense spending but drastically cut funding for the State Department, Graham responded by saying the budget would be “dead on arrival — it’s not going to happen. It would be a disaster. If you take soft power off the table then you’re never going to win the war.”

In the lead up to the approval of the fiscal year 2018 federal budget, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney testified before the Senate Budget Committee about the president’s proposed foreign aid cuts. During the Senate hearing, Senator Graham grilled him on the Trump administration budget that would cut funding for the State Department and USAID.

Senator Graham warned that reducing aid to countries like Jordan, a Middle East ally, and Georgia, an uneasy neighbor of Russia, would have disastrous effects. Graham gave an example to Mulvaney, saying, “The King of Jordan is the best ally we could hope to have. We reduce his funding by $275 million? I got a call from the ambassador from Jordan saying, what did we do wrong?” Graham also pointed out the fact that foreign aid is only 1 percent of the budget, and “if we don’t help the king of Jordan more in a time of critical need, his kingdom could fall.”

In September 2017, Senator Graham, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, passed a spending bill that overturned the president’s steep proposed cuts to foreign aid and diplomacy. The Appropriations Committee approved $51 billion for the State Department, foreign operations and related programs, which was $11 billion above the president’s request. Graham, after the passing of the spending bill, remarked, “Now is not the time for retreat; now is the time to double down on diplomacy and development.”

While the Trump administration has made it clear that it has every intention to drastically cut funding to the International Affairs Budget, Senator Lindsey Graham, in the first year of the Trump administration, has been one of the most vocal supporters of increases to the foreign aid budget and other programs that improve living conditions for the world’s poor.

– Zachary Ott

Photo: Flickr

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