Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday attacked President Joe Biden for linking the bipartisan infrastructure deal reached earlier that day with 11 Senate Republicans to a larger reconciliation bill proposed by Democrats.
“If he’s gonna tie them together, he can forget it!” Graham told Politico. “I’m not doing that. That’s extortion! I’m not going to do that. The Dems are being told you can’t get your bipartisan work product passed unless you sign on to what the left wants, and I’m not playing that game.”
Biden reached a deal with a bipartisan group of senators to pass a smaller version of his infrastructure package, he announced at the White House earlier Thursday. Graham was among the Senate Republicans who originally signed onto the bipartisan infrastructure framework, which indicated there were enough Republicans to overcome a filibuster, Politico reported.
If reports are accurate that President Biden is refusing to sign a bipartisan deal unless reconciliation is also passed, that would be the ultimate deal breaker for me.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 24, 2021
Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened to tank the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill unless key Democratic priorities such as climate change action and child care, which are omitted from the bill, are included in a complementary reconciliation bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer began preparing a multitrillion-dollar reconciliation bill earlier in June, even as bipartisan talks on the infrastructure package were taking place at the White House.
Biden told reporters during a press briefing Thursday that he has no plans to sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless it’s accompanied by a complementary reconciliation bill. (RELATED: Wait A Second, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Calls For Tearing Down Highways?)
Graham said the five Republicans who negotiated the bipartisan deal never told him about the president’s dual-track strategy for infrastructure, adding the lawmakers were likely unaware of the plan themselves.
“Most Republicans could not have known that,” he told Politico. “There’s no way. You look like a fucking idiot now. I don’t mind bipartisanship, but I’m not going to do a suicide mission.”
Other Republicans also attacked the president’s dual-track strategy, arguing he created a massive problem that could jeopardize the entire bipartisan deal.
“The president’s comments did real damage here,” a senior GOP aide told Politico. “It is astonishing that he could endorse this bipartisan framework in one breath and then announce he will hold it hostage in the next.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday accused Democrats of “pulling the rug out from under their bipartisan negotiators” with the new dual-track strategy during a speech on the Senate floor.