Feb 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Lindsey Graham backs Trump plan for foreign aid as a loan

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks with members of the media while arriving in the Senate Subway during a vote at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday he will not support the $95 billion foreign aid bill moving through the Senate — following President Trump by demanding that aid be given in the form of a loan.

Why it matters: It's a notable stance for Graham, who has been one of Senate Republicans' most ardent supporters of Ukraine. He reiterated the importance of helping the country in its war against Russia, but added "we must deal with our border first."

  • "I hope the House will take another meaningful look at border security so that it can pass the Senate," Graham said in a Monday night statement.
  • "I also hope the House will turn the supplemental aid package into a loan instead of a grant. Until that day comes, I will be voting no."

Between the lines: It is the latest sign of the fracturing of the Republican party over providing more military aid to Ukraine — egged on by Trump, who posted over the weekend that he opposes the foreign aid package if it isn't structured as a loan.

  • "Give them the money, and if they can pay it back, they pay it back," Trump said at a rally on Saturday, "but if they go to another nation, they drop us like a dog."

Zoom in: Graham said in a statement Monday evening that the money should be given in the form of a loan to the countries in need.

  • "A loan on friendly terms allows America, who is deeply in debt, a chance to get our money back and changes the paradigm of how we help others," Graham said in the statement.
  • "President Trump is right to insist that we think outside the box."

What he's saying: Graham also attacked the Senate's process, calling it "a complete debacle," blaming both Democratic and Republican leadership for not allowing serious debate on the bipartisan border package, which died in three days after four months of talks.

  • "Pulling the plug on Ukraine only invites further aggression in other areas of the world, particularly from China," Graham said.
  • "However... we must deal with our border first. The border is a national security nightmare."
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