'Mr. President, dig in': Lindsey Graham praises Trump's refusal to compromise over border wall funding even as the government shuts down

Sen. Lindsey Graham.Sen. Lindsey Graham.J. Scott Applewhite/AP

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham praised President Donald Trump for his decision to shut down the government rather than compromise on his demand for billions in funding for his long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border.
  • The South Carolina Republican appeared unconcerned about a government shutdown, which is affecting hundreds of thousands of government employees, and encouraged the president to "dig in."
  • Other Republican lawmakers have expressed disappointment or even outrage over the president's inability to compromise with Democrats and keep the government open.

Sen. Lindsey Graham praised President Donald Trump for refusing to walk back his demand for billions in funding for his long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border, forcing the government to shut down for the third time in two years of a Republican-controlled Washington.

Aligning himself with the GOP's right-wing which has pushed for absolutism, the South Carolina Republican argued that the president is justified in taking a hard line on the issue, encouraging him to "break" Democratic lawmakers.

"When you make a promise to the American people, you should keep it," Graham said during a Friday night interview on Fox News just before the government shut down. "The one thing I like about President Trump ― he's trying his best to keep his promise. He promised to build a wall, and he's going to fight hard to keep that promise. After the caravan, if you don't see the need for more border security, you're blind."

Graham characterized the fight as a final opportunity to get the $5 billion Trump is demanding for the wall, which Democrats are dead-set against building. During the appearance, Graham did not mention the hundreds of thousands of government workers that will go without pay during the shutdown.

"I'm glad he picked this fight. If we do not stand up now to make sure we get more money for the wall, we'll never get any more next year," Graham said. "So, Mr. President, dig in."

Montana Sen. Steve Daines on Friday echoed Trump's far-fetched call for Republicans to eliminate the filibuster on legislation, the rule that requires a supermajority of 60 votes to pass bills, including those that fund the government.

Trump has repeatedly called on McConnell to employ the so-called "nuclear option" in the past, but the majority leader has resisted and shot down the suggestion every time. Lawmakers have argued that getting rid of the filibuster would result in a more volatile chamber and destroy the last concrete rule that forces bipartisan agreement.

But other Republican senators voiced a contrary sentiment, slamming both parties for failing to come to an agreement to keep the government open.

Read more: Chuck Schumer just poked a huge hole in Trump's logic in the government-shutdown fight

"I was not elected to shut down the government, I was elected to make it work for taxpayers. This is a complete failure of negotiations and a success for no one," Sen. Lamar Alexander, who recently announced he will retire in 2020, tweeted on Friday night. "Shutting down the government should be as off limits to budget negotiations as chemical weapons are to warfare."

This comes after Trump proclaimed last week that he would be "proud" to shut the government down over the border wall fight, and insisted that he would shoulder the political fallout and take blame for the government closure. Instead, he's pivoted to blaming Democrats for the shutdown.

"We are going to be working very hard to get something passed in the Senate. There's a very good chance it won't get passed," Trump said. "It's up to the Democrats. So it's really the Democrat shutdown. Because we've done our thing."

Bob Bryan contributed to this report.

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