Amid a challenging budget environment, the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have found an ally in Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Graham, who is expected to be named the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations’ State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, said he will fight for resources for U.S. diplomatic and development efforts.
“If you don’t want to use military force any more than you have to, count me in,” Graham said in an exclusive interview on Feb. 1 with The Cable. “State Department, USAID, all of these programs, in their own way, help win this struggle against radical Islam. The unsung heroes of this war are the State Department officials, the [Department of Justice] officials, and the agricultural people who are going out there.”
If he secures the position, Graham will be up against the Republican-led House of Representatives who have proposed massive budget cuts to state operations and foreign aid programs.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, has pledged these to carry out these deep cuts, while a group of conservative House Republicans want to defund USAID.
Graham supports the Obama administration’s pitch that full funding for foreign affairs schemes are key to maintaining U.S. national security interests.
“To those members who do not see the value of the civilian partnership in the war on terror, I think they are making a very dangerous decision,” Graham said.
Graham said he intends to raise State and USAID resources for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
“The way I look at it is, it’s national security insurance that we’re buying,” he said.