Transcript: GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham says “Iran is very supportive of sequestration”
Transcribed & edited by Jenny Jiang
Transcript of remarks by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on sequestration at a press briefing on Feb. 6, 2013:
We’re going to spend $47 [trillion] over the next 10 – over the next decade. The question is can we reduce spending by $1.2 trillion without raising taxes and destroying the defense department? The
answer is yes if we want to.
Now, the President has a proposal. I don’t think it’s sound, but let’s vote on it.
To Harry Reid, the House has tried to fix sequestration in the past; we’ve done nothing in the Senate.
It’s one thing to be the world’s most deliberative body but it’s another thing to just be absent. We’ve been the most absent body in the history of modern politics. We’re not doing anything in the Senate.
So Harry, please take the President’s proposal or come up with one of your own, put it on the floor and let’s start voting. If you don’t like what we’re doing, come up with your own.
Now, as John will say, a little straight talk. We have our thing as Republicans own this proposal on this sequestration idea. It was the President’s idea according to Bob Woodward’s book but we as the Republican Party agreed to it. We got in this mess together and we’re going to have to get out together.
Mr. President, help lead us, and unlike anyone else on this stage, you are the commander-in-chief. Do you really want your legacy to be at a time of great conflict you led the American Congress into a deal that would destroy the military at the time we need it the most? You want to pivot to Asia? How do you do that with 232 ships? What about Iran acquiring a nuclear capability? If you exempt personnel from sequestration, which the President has chosen to do, how do you modernize the F-16 and F-18? How do you go deep into Iran without the F-22 and the F-35 coming into being?
Our enemies would love this to happen. I’m sure Iran is very supportive of sequestration. I’m sure Al Qaeda training camps all over the world would be pleased with the fact that sequestration would gut the CIA and the intelligence platforms that we have to follow them around.
It’s just not about tanks and planes and the smallest Air Force in the history of the country, the smallest Navy since 1915, the smallest Armed Services since 1940. It’s about the CIA. It’s about the intelligence gathering capabilities of this country. It’s also about the Department of Education. It’s about non-defense matters.
So I’m hopeful that we can finally start voting in the Senate rather than just complaining about what the House does.
To the President, we bear responsibility as Republicans for allowing this to happen; lead us to a better solution.
If you do not, Mr. President, you will go down in history, in my view, as one of the most irresponsible commanders-in-chief in the history of the country because what you would have done, Mr. President, is that you would have allowed the finest military in the history of the world to deteriorate at a time when we need it the most. Let’s not let that happen.
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