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Cheney warns GOP lawmakers against allowing defense cuts

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) liked what he heard from former Vice President Dick Cheney today over lunch in the Capitol.

Cheney was on the Hill on Tuesday to meet with House and Senate Republicans to sound the alarm over automatic defense cuts set to take place on Jan. 1 as laid out in last summer's debt ceiling agreement.

“He probably talked more today than he did in eight years,” Graham told reporters, noting that Cheney seemed in "excellent" health and in "good spirits" following a heart transplant earlier this year.

According to Graham, Cheney, a former secretary of Defense, warned that $500 billion in cuts over the next 10 years would be devastating to long term planning against threats like Iran.

"He pointed out the stealth technology we used in the first Gulf War and precision guided munitions were a result of planning in the eighties," Graham told reporters. "And you know the next war, who knows what the next threats going to be. But, if you had to go into an Iran where you've got really hardened sights, you're going to have to have the most sophisticated accurate weapons possible."

Graham was quick to point out, “He didn’t say we should attack Iran.”

Cheney told Republicans, "You need to keep money flowing in predictable ways so you can plan for the next war."

Graham is advocating a one year fix to avoid $109 billion in defense cuts in 2013. He said he is willing to put revenue on the table in the form of fees, asset sales and ending deductions and loopholes combined with cuts across other parts of the government. He predicted he could bring other Republicans along to support revenue increases if the president wanted to negotiate. 

"Where is presidential leadership here? We need him," Graham said. "He should be calling a group of us. I could bring a pretty large number of Republicans, more than a handful that would sit down with the president and Democrats to find a way to do a combination of revenue, other government cuts to avoid at least 2013."

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) also said today she supported a one year fix in the absence of a longer term solution.

On the other side of the aisle, Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was Cheney's ties to Halliburton that were motivating his concerns over defense cuts.

"Halliburton did extremely well during his time as vice president, and I assume there is going to be some concern about Halliburton again in this conversation they're going to have today," Reid told reporters.