President Joe Biden this week appeared alongside Democratic and Republican lawmakers to tout an apparent bipartisan agreement to fund a massive infrastructure spending plan.
Subsequent reports, however, indicate that his political tactics could end up costing him the crucial support of GOP senators, thus toppling the fragile deal.
“If they don’t come, I’m not signing it”
Although the president signaled his support of the infrastructure compromise, he included a potentially deal-breaking catch.
On Thursday, Biden said he would not sign any resulting bill into law unless it is attached to another package containing funding for many of the progressive projects included in his initial proposal.
“I control that,” he declared. “If they don’t come, I’m not signing it. Real simple. We need physical infrastructure, but we also need human infrastructure as well. We’re going to have to do that through the budget process and we need a fair tax system to pay for it all.”
His ultimatum clearly caught many Senate Republicans off guard, and now a group of them is coming out against the entire infrastructure plan.
For his part, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Biden’s position “extortion” and said he would not be a part of it.
“I’m not playing that game”
“If he’s going to tie them together, he can forget it,” the senator said. “I’m not doing that. That’s extortion. The Dems are being told you can’t get your bipartisan work passed unless you sign on to what the left wants, and I’m not playing that game.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) offered a similar sentiment, declaring that he felt “blindsided.”
The entire ordeal left Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) “pissed and disappointed.”
Even some moderate Democrats are dismayed, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who remarked: “To say that one’s being held hostage to the other doesn’t seem fair to me, but they’re going to make those decisions. But we have to see what’s in the other plan before I can say, ‘Oh, yes, you vote for this and I’ll vote for that.’ That’s not what I signed up for. I’ve only signed up for what’s in the plan that makes sense.”
Other reports indicate that Biden’s tactic could scare off a significant number of House Democrats, which could make it difficult for the infrastructure plan to even make it through the lower chamber.