Rand Paul Spars With McCain And Graham Over Defense Spending

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Tuesday he will vote in favor on a motion to proceed the Senate GOP’s budget that allows the upper chamber to move forward with debate.

Passing the fiscal year 2018 budget is a critical step in the GOP’s plans to overhaul the tax code, as this includes reconciliation instructions shielding the bill from a Democratic filibuster and permits room for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the course of the decade.

Paul, a staunch fiscal conservative, is at odds with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona over defense spending. The Kentucky Republican has repeatedly blasted the bill for busting budget caps.

McCain and Graham argue the spending increase is critical if the United States wants to properly fund its military.

Paul said he’ll vote for the procedural measure “largely out of respect for the president,” but does not support legislation that exceeds the 2011 federal budget caps.

“Currently the budget that is being produced exceeds the spending caps by $43 billion,” he told reporters Tuesday. “So I’ve told my leadership I’ve told the president, I spoke with the president this afternoon, and he and I discussed this and I said, ‘Look I’m all in — I want to be supportive — I’m a yes vote, but we have to obey our own rules.”

Paul alleged McCain and Graham aren’t fiscally conservative, telling reporters they are failing to make good on their campaign promises.

“They want unlimited spending and they want to do anything they can to exceed the budget caps,” Paul continued. “And this is a real problem and it needs to be discussed in the open because the problem with Republicans is they’re going home and promising one thing and they’re coming to Washington and doing another.”

McCain wants to to further examine the budget, but feels military spending is necessary to keep the troops safe.

“My criteria is that we have to have enough spending to stop the needless death and wounding of American servicemen and women who are in danger, some of whom have been killed because of lack of readiness and funding for the armed services,” McCain told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Graham dismissed Paul’s criticisms, telling reporters he’s concerned Paul will derail tax reform.

“I don’t think you can be the friend of the president or for the conservative cause and vote against this budget resolution based on lifting spending caps — because it doesn’t,” he told reporters, adding he believes the party needs to prove it can govern.

Paul would like to vote “yes” on the bill, he said, adding he’s pushing for the inclusion of language on entitlement reform.

“I will ask to have a budget and I will produce the budget that doesn’t exceed the spending caps,” he said.

Despite facing a series of challenges, GOP leadership remains hopeful to send tax reform legislation to the president’s desk before the end of the year.

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