"In fiscal year 2011 there is no mechanism, as of yet, to allow a scoping to allow the keeping of the Charleston harbor open for super cargo ships coming through," Graham said.

Graham said the port may need to be deepened to allow a new breed of super tankers, which he says will "dominate shipping lanes" for years to do come, to do business in South Carolina.

"This harbor would have to be deepened to accept these new ships," the senator argued.

Funding for the study was not included in the 2011 budget deal. 

An aide to Graham told The Hill at the time that the $40,000 request was not an earmark. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.) congratulated Graham for his "dogged" representation of his state and promised to help the senator find the federal funds necessary to conduct the study.

Graham then agreed to allow the Senate to continue to operate.

In August of last year, the watchdog group named Graham a "Taxpayer Hero" for his "defense of the taxpayer and fiscally sound policy."