Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) slammed his Republican colleagues, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina for “parading” as conservatives while opposing legislation that is not “conservative.”

“People like McCain and Graham, who parade as conservatives but are not really conservative, they need to be called out because they are bankrupting our country,” Paul said on Tuesday.

A favorite of libertarians, Paul said that Graham was part of the “problem” in Washington for having contributed to the national debt through increased military spending. “Lindsey Graham wouldn’t know a conservative if he met one,” Paul said. “He’s never been a conservative. He’s probably a big part of why we have such a massive debt in this country.” Paul said that neither Graham or McCain as “fiscally conservative.”

Whether Paul will vote in favor of a federal budget being offered by Republicans is not yet clear. He voted “no” in January to the Republican budget project and could be the sole Republican “no” for the one that is coming. But after playing golf with President Donald Trump over the weekend, Paul said that the president was “influential” in convincing him to vote for the motion to proceed with the budget. While Paul is persuaded to vote “yes,” it will come at the cost of agreeing to a $43 billion cut in defense spending. Graham and McCain, both of whom are inveterate hawks on defense spending, can be relied upon to oppose Paul.

The budget bill is expected to win almost unanimous GOP support, especially after the Obamacare repeal debacle. Both Paul and McCain voted against it, departing from their GOP colleagues. The coming budget is nonbinding and not likely to affect spending bills down the line. It is intended as a procedural vote to allow tax reform that can bypass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. 

According to Politico, Paul asked that if the coming vote on the budget is merely symbolic, why won’t “so-called Republican conservatives” concede to him? “Every one of these people says it doesn’t matter what’s in the budget. But when push comes to shove and somebody wants to have something in the budget to make it mean something, then they’re opposed to it,” Paul said. 

In response, Graham traded barbs with Paul on Twitter, warning him: “Don’t screw up #TaxReform now. You already saved #Obamacare.”



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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