Shortly after making a big deal out of a bipartisan agreement on an infrastructure bill, Joe Biden suggested he wouldn’t sign it unless he also received another bill with more of what he wanted in it. After Republicans understandably balked at the idea, Biden was forced into a hasty clarification. The WSJ explains:
Senate Republicans criticized President Biden for his comments yoking together a bipartisan infrastructure plan and an antipoverty program reliant solely on Democratic support, underscoring the perils facing the multitrillion-dollar agenda.
Just hours after Mr. Biden embraced a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure plan crafted by a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday, he said he wouldn’t sign it unless Congress also sent him a package of child-care, climate, education and other provisions expected to advance without GOP votes.
Democratic leaders support that approach, but moving two disparate bills, backed by different coalitions of lawmakers, at nearly the same time, quickly presented both procedural and political challenges.
Republican leaders objected to tying the two together, potentially threatening GOP support for the bipartisan deal. The 11 GOP senators who backed the bipartisan deal met over Zoom on Friday morning to vent their frustration over Mr. Biden’s comments, according to a person familiar with the discussion. A group of Republicans and Democrats involved in the talks gathered virtually in the afternoon.
At least one GOP senator, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), said the Democrats’ strategy would cost his support for the bipartisan infrastructure proposal, which he had backed, although he signed on to a statement Thursday evening trumpeting Mr. Biden’s support of the bipartisan framework.
“No deal by extortion!” he tweeted Friday, saying it was never suggested to him during the negotiations that Mr. Biden wouldn’t sign the bipartisan proposal unless the Democratic package was also sent to his desk. Senate Democrats hope to pass the antipoverty bill under a special process tied to the budget, known as reconciliation, that requires only a simple majority.
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