Jun 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Graham calls Democrats' dual-track infrastructure plan "extortion"

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during a Senate subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on June 23.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during a Senate subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on June 23. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Politico Thursday that he will not support the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal that President Biden struck with 10 senators, after Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded it be passed alongside a budget resolution with key Democratic priorities.

Why it matters: The bipartisan infrastructure bill needs every Democrat and 10 GOP votes — meaning five more than the number of Republicans that have already signed on — in order to overcome a legislative filibuster in the Senate.

  • Graham originally signed onto the original bipartisan infrastructure framework, but is now signaling he will not vote for the bill if Democrats move to pass a separate package on a party-line basis.

What they're saying: “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."

  • Graham added that most "Republicans could not have known that" Biden also planned to request a multitrillion-dollar budget resolution, which will likely include key elements of his family and climate change plans.
  • “There's no way. You look like a f****ng idiot now. I don’t mind bipartisanship, but I’m not going to do a suicide mission," Graham said.

The state of play: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also opposed this requirement on the Senate floor Thursday, accusing Democratic leadership of "pulling the rug out from under their bipartisan negotiators."

  • Pelosi said hours before the deal was announced: "There ain't going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate."

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