Senator Lindsey Graham is usually a mild-mannered sort of fellow, not given to outbursts of anger. But Graham couldn’t contain himself after the White House announced a slight alteration in the bipartisan infrastructure bill recently agreed to by the White House and Senate that Graham said makes the GOP look like “f**king idiots.”
Indeed, it does. Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer informed the Republicans that if they want that infrastructure deal, they’re going to have to pass the rest of Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar agenda.
“I expect that in the coming months this summer, before the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution. But if only one comes to me, this is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
It’s a classic bait and switch, with Republicans believing up to that moment that Biden would sign the infrastructure bill — expected to be passed sometime in July — and then Democrats could try to pass the rest of their agenda, including the $1.8 trillion American Families Act, using reconciliation.
Is it a betrayal if Republicans should have known better?
Most politicians at least wait a decent interval to pull a double cross. But Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Biden are trying to prevent a revolt on the left. So they are now holding a bipartisan deal hostage to the left’s demands. This is political blackmail aimed at Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema who are part of the bipartisan Senate Gang of 10: Unless they sign on to all of the progressive tax-and-spend agenda, they won’t get their bipartisan deal. And Mr. Biden and progressives will blame them for the failure.
This is remarkable bad faith even for Washington. We’ll have more to say about the details of the bipartisan deal as they emerge. But Thursday’s comments make clear this exercise isn’t bipartisan at all. The Pelosi-Biden political goal is to use this Senate deal as leverage to jam through the rest of their progressive wish list.
This has been extremely well played by Biden and has well and truly trapped Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. They have staked their electoral fortunes on the notion of “bipartisanship,” angering their colleagues and enraging the radical left. Now they’ll be forced to side with their radical compatriots if they want their little bipartisan victory.
Does it matter that Biden negotiated in bad faith?
“They have my word,” Biden said. “I’ll stick with what we’ve proposed, and they’ve given me their word as well.” He earlier claimed, “A lot of us go back a long way, where we’re used to doing one thing — give each other our word, and that’s the end.”
Except, in this case, it wasn’t “the end.” Biden’s bad faith was made possible because Republicans didn’t get his ironclad commitment to sign the bipartisan bill regardless of what happened to reconciliation. It must have slipped their mind.
The question is why Senate Republicans would sign on to this deal when they are being told to their faces they’ll be double-crossed. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell expressed appropriate doubt due to the bait and switch late Thursday. Some Republicans hope the bipartisan deal will make it harder to pass a reconciliation bill by taking away the popular infrastructure bits. But unless Republicans know that Mr. Manchin or other Democrats won’t support a Pelosi reconciliation bill, that hope appears to have died on Thursday.
If Manchin and Sinema stick to their guns and refuse to vote for a reconciliation bill, they won’t get their bipartisan deal either. If Republicans kill the bipartisan deal, Democrats will have a political opening a mile wide. Biden could claim he tried to be bipartisan but the mean old Republicans would rather obstruct him and stand in the way of all these goodies the government wants to give you. They’re free, ya know.
The GOP just got snookered. And it’s their own fault.