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Video: Sen. Graham: US should ‘sanction the hell out of China’

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), speaks at a news conference proposing legislation to address the crisis at the southern border at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS)
April 20, 2020

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called for expansive sanctions against the Chinese government in response to the coronavirus pandemic which began in China.

During an interview with Fox host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday, Graham described China as the “largest state sponsor of pandemics,” and called on the U.S. to raise sanctions against China in response to its deceptive handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked by Pirro what Congress can do about U.S. lives and livelihoods disrupted or lost as a result of the spread of coronavirus, Graham explained various options for recouping economic costs caused by the virus.

“I’d like to look at a tariff, a pandemic tariff,” Graham said. “Let’s put tariffs on China and take that money to help reimburse our citizens who have suffered so much.

Graham went on to assess that the coronavirus began as the result of someone in China “dealing with a bat,” followed by “gross negligence and willful deception by the Chinese government.”

Graham noted 22 million Americans are now unemployed as a result of shutdown orders issued to stop the spread of the virus, and 38,000 people have ultimately lost their lives to the illness.

Graham noted a couple of already proposed bills aimed at exacting costs for damages from China. Fellow Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw have introduced a Senate bill to allow Americans to sue for damages as a result of the virus.

He noted another idea discussed by Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn and Martha McSally aimed at canceling U.S. debts to China.

“Cancelling debt is something we could do,” he said. “You know China is the largest state sponsor of pandemics in the world. Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism. We sanctioned the hell out of Iran for spreading terrorism — we ought to sanction the hell out of China for spreading pandemics.”

Graham also discussed “carrots and sticks” to motivate U.S. companies to move their supply chains out of China and into the U.S.

“Bring the supply chain back, yeah, that’s a no brainer,” he said. “Let’s bring it back into this country using ‘carrots and sticks,’ telling businesses ‘if you relocate your supply chain, we’ll give you a tax break, if you don’t we’re going to punish you.'”