Lindsey Graham Says 'We Shot Ourselves in the Foot' Over Debt Ceiling

Senator Lindsey Graham hit out at members of his own party who sided with the Democrats in voting to help advance a short-term debt-ceiling extension.

At least 10 GOP Senators were needed for the procedural move to break the GOP filibuster, with 11 ultimately deciding to advance the vote, giving a final count of 61-38.

The Senate then approved a plan to raise the government debt limit by an additional $480 billion through to early December in a 50-48 vote on Thursday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of the 11 Republicans whose vote helped the debt ceiling to be raised, having stood his ground for months on the point that the Democrats should suspend or raise the debt ceiling themselves through the arduous budget reconciliation process.

Speaking to Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday, Graham said McConnell and 10 other GOP senators had "screwed up" after promising that the party would not allow debt to be raised by the Democrats and accused them of ultimately "folding" to their demands.

"For two months, we promised our base and the American people that we would not help the Democratic Party raise the debt ceiling so they could spend $3.5 to $5 trillion through reconciliation. At the end of the day, we blinked.

"Two things have happened. We've let our people down, and we've made the Democrats believe we're all talk and no action," Graham said.

The South Carolina senator added that the party will come back to the issue in December when government funding is set to lapse again if Congress doesn't approve new spending legislation.

"We had a process in place, we made a promise for two months that we would make them [Democrats] do it without our help, and we folded it and I hate that.

"We're in a hole. We got to dig out of this hole and we can, we shot ourselves in the foot tonight."

Siding With the Democrats

Speaking about McConnell, Graham said that the Kentucky senator had sided with the Democrats amid their claims they would "go nuclear" and modify the filibuster to allow it to be bypassed with just 50 votes.

"We cannot live that way," Graham added. "When President Trump was in power, he asked us to change the rules every day, wanting us to get our way, and I said no. So I have no sympathy for the Democratic Party threatening to use the filibuster to implement their socialist agenda.

"At the end of the day, we cannot be extorted and live this way. We should have stood our ground and played this out. I don't believe they would have blown up the Senate over this."

Hannity then interrupted Graham to point out that Joe Manchin, who is opposing Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, had already said he wouldn't use the nuclear option in order to raise the debt ceiling.

Hannity then asked if the GOP will in future "be a hostage to the threat of the use of the nuclear option" and back down on their own promises.

"That's what we may have set in place," Graham said. "We may have made ourselves susceptible to this tactic in the future."

He added: "Changing at the last minute, using the excuse of changing the filibuster, has made us less effective in the body, the Democrats are gonna look at us differently, and the people that we represent are incredibly disappointed.

"There was no reason to do this. Don't say things that you can't deliver on...if we do this again, in December, we'll shoot ourselves in the head as a party."

'Sad Day' for the GOP

Hannity then ended the interview with his own attack on McConnell following the "pretty sad, pathetic day" for the GOP.

"The Republican Party, in many ways, created Donald Trump," Hannity said.

"People like Mitch McConnell created Donald Trump, because a lot of swamp creatures did exactly this kind of garbage and didn't fight, didn't keep their word.

"Republicans said we needed a disrupter, we needed an iconoclast and somebody that's going to really keep their word and fight for us. That's why Donald Trump will get 50,000 people at a rally, and Mitch McConnell will get five."

McConnell has been contacted for comment.

Lindsey graham debt
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks on southern border security and illegal immigration, during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 30, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images