“Graham is out,” Politico reports this morning, and more to the point, Lindsey Graham is furious. After hearing that Joe Biden and Democratic leadership refuse to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless a much larger infrastructure bill passes with reconciliation, Graham declared that GOP negotiators just got double-crossed.
Maybe he’s never heard the story of the Zen master? We’ll see…
“If he’s gonna tie them together, he can forget it!” Graham said. “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 said the five Republicans negotiating the deal never told him about the linkage strategy and he does not believe that they were aware of it. “Most Republicans could not have known that,” he said. “There’s no way. You look like a fucking idiot now.” He added, “I don’t mind bipartisanship, but I’m not going to do a suicide mission.”
Graham often changes his mind, so Republicans close to the negotiations may take his comments with a grain of salt. But at the same time, Republicans who want this deal to happen believe Biden created a massive problem that could put the entire deal in jeopardy.
“The president’s comments did real damage here,” said a senior GOP aide. “It is astonishing that he could endorse this bipartisan framework in one breath and then announce he will hold it hostage in the next.”
Graham’s not the only Senate Republican angry over this bait-and-switch attempt by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Mitch McConnell went to the Senate floor to decry the “tale of two press conferences” stunt by Joe Biden. “Alas, that optimism was short-lived,” lamented the Senate Minority Leader. “It almost makes your head spin,” he continued:
“Less than two hours after publicly commending our colleagues and actually endorsing the bipartisan agreement, the president took the extraordinary step of threatening to veto it. It was a tale of two press conferences,” McConnell said on the floor.
McConnell’s criticism is the latest sign that the Democratic strategy of trying to pass Biden’s infrastructure on two tracks consisting of a scaled-down bipartisan package and a larger partisan reconciliation package will be difficult to pull off. …
McConnell accused Biden of flip-flopping on the support he showed for the bipartisan Senate infrastructure framework only hours earlier.
“It almost makes your head spin,” McConnell grumbled on the floor. “An expression of bipartisanship and then an ultimatum on behalf of your left-wing base.”
“I have no doubt that the president is under enormous pressure from some on the left to deliver a laundry list of radical climate demands,” he said.
It’s tough to understand what Biden is thinking. If he wanted to do infrastructure through reconciliation, why bother with the bipartisan effort at all? It looks much more like Schumer and Pelosi bullied Biden into this ‘tandem’ approach, which provides zero incentive for the GOP to cooperate or collaborate. What’s the point, if Democrats will steamroll them for the rest of their massive demand anyway?
McConnell’s speech probably kills any ability to get ten votes from Republicans on the bipartisan deal. Even the negotiators in this case have to feel at least a little like Graham suggests, and perhaps more than a little after Biden’s stunning two-hour reversal. If Biden doesn’t go back to his original commitment, then he can kiss any chance of GOP cooperation good-bye for the rest of this session … and watch his entire agenda go down in flames.
Is that a bad thing? We’ll see, said the Zen master …