Lindsey Graham Pledges Repeal of Career Military COLA Cuts: '99 Percent Certainty'

February 12, 2014

On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Tuesday night, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reported he felt certain cuts to cost of living adjustments agreed upon on the previous budget deal would be repealed on Wednesday.

Transcript courtesy of the Hugh Hewitt radio show as follows:

HEWITT: Senator Graham, what do you have to tell us?

GRAHAM: 99%.

HEWITT: A-ha! Well, that is terrific news. Now what does that mean, that tonight, the Senate will vote…

GRAHAM: Okay, let me tell you exactly the issue. It’s a technical issue. The House passed the COLA bill that basically sets aside the military COLA reduction. It’s paid for by extending sequestration a year. But the pay-for doesn’t score until April the 15th, so this is a technicality, basically. April 15th of this year is when the budget allows is to be scored. So you can waive that point of order. I’m confident that if anybody objected to not going forward now because of an April technicality, that that would be overridden.

HEWITT: Oh, so you think tonight before you folks leave town, this will be fixed?

GRAHAM: No, I think it will be tomorrow.

HEWITT: Okay. Well that’s, okay, before you leave the Senate…

GRAHAM: Before we leave town, I am highly confident that we will take the House-passed COLA fix, bring it to the floor of the Senate, and it is paid for, beginning in April, and it will be an overwhelming vote to get this behind us.

HEWITT: Well, I want to take a moment and say thank you, because when I was in D.C. ten days ago and sat down in your office, you gave me the assurance that this would get fixed. And I just doubted that you would be able to rally the Democrats to do this, so my hat’s off to you, Lindsey Graham, and to Kelly Ayotte, Roger Wicker, and all your colleagues who forced them to this point.

GRAHAM: There is a time when the two groups in America come together. We are united a lot. We all love the military. I just think our foreign policy is better than theirs, but at the end of the day, the veterans groups and talk radio, and people on the left spoke with the same voice, and Democrats found it hard to explain why you wouldn’t want to pay for this change, because it’s only $6 billion over ten years. Republicans found it hard to suggest this was fair. So the two sides came together. Republicans couldn’t sell this as fair, because it’s not, and Democrats couldn’t explain why you shouldn’t pay for it, because you should. And I think that is a big win for the country.

HEWITT: It is.

GRAHAM: Thank you, Hugh Hewitt, and to all those who called in.

HEWITT: And a last question, now you’re going to go home tonight, and stuff happens in D.C., and not just on…

GRAHAM: Yes. That’s why I said 99%.

HEWITT: Okay. So you’re going to come back tomorrow. Do you keep people on watch overnight to see if anyone slips anything into the bill that hasn’t been read, yet?

GRAHAM: What we will do, this is a single piece of legislation, a few pages, not hundreds of pages stuck in a budget deal. This is a simple piece of legislation to understand. It’s not part of a big overall budget effort. This is a single shot solution. Yes, I’ll let you know tomorrow.

HEWITT: Oh, that is great news.

GRAHAM: It’s not done until it’s signed by the President, but I’ve never felt better about it, and it all came together in the last hour because Kelly now went on the floor and just berated our Democratic friends for not wanting to pay for it, and we also berated some of her Republican colleagues for not wanting to fix it.

HEWITT: Well, thank you. That is great news, the Congress of the United State doing what it should do, and I appreciate you calling back, Senator.

GRAHAM: 99%. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, but I’ve never felt better.

HEWITT: All right, thank you, my friend. I’ll be right back, America, Senator Lindsey Graham saying the battle of this might be over this time tomorrow, and what a great thing that would be. 99%. It’s not 100%. It ain’t done. I assume the President will sign this.


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