Saturday, May 25, 2024

What Lindsey Graham Isn’t Telling You About US ‘Loan’ to Ukraine

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a leading neoconservative, is making the rounds on media touting his support for the $61 billion Ukraine aid bill. His rationale: It’s a loan.

Crediting former President Donald Trump for the idea, Graham told “Fox News Sunday” host Shannon Bream that he supports the foreign aid package currently before Congress because it’s structured differently from a previous deal he opposed in February.

“This aid package has a loan component to it,” Graham said Sunday. “President Trump has created a loan component to this package that gives us leverage down the road.”

But does it?

What Graham fails to mention is the fine print.

Of the $61 billion in the foreign aid package, only $9.5 billion comes in the form of a “forgivable loan” for the Ukrainian government, according to Heritage Action. (Heritage Action is the grassroots arm of The Heritage Foundation, which founded The Daily Signal in 2014).

There’s another catch for the so-called loan: President Joe Biden has the power to cancel 50% of the total after this coming Nov. 15. And the remaining 50% may be canceled by the president after Jan. 1, 2026.

“This bill isn’t intended to come due,” Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts wrote for The Hill last week. “The ‘loan’ would be structured at 0% interest, would be waivable by President Biden, and would be financed with more U.S. debt. No one in Washington seriously plans to ask for the money back. And if they did, Ukraine could simply default on the loan.”

Graham was one of 29 senators—26 of them Republicans—to oppose an earlier version of Biden’s supplemental spending request in February.

At the time, Graham said: “Pulling the plug on Ukraine only invites further aggression in other areas of the world, particularly from China. However, as I have been consistently saying, we must deal with our border first. … The border must be addressed before we can move to other areas.”

The Russia-Ukraine war has raged since Feb. 24, 2022, when Russia invaded the former Soviet republic.

When senators vote on the $95 billion foreign aid package, they won’t consider any legislation related to America’s own border crisis. That’s because House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., opted not to include a separate bill addressing illegal immigration at the border as part of the foreign aid legislation.

Still, Graham has signaled he’ll support the package—even if the loan concept he endorsed in February is different from the one in the current legislation.

“A loan on friendly terms allows America, who is deeply in debt, a chance to get our money back and changes the paradigm of how we help others,” Graham said in February.

In this case, no one expects the United States to be repaid.

“The American people will never see this money again,” Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, said.

Graham’s office referred The Daily Signal to the senator’s social media post when asked for comment.