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Republicans Threaten To Derail Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Over 'Extortion'
Joe Biden

Republicans Threaten To Derail Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Over 'Extortion'

According to Senate Republicans, President Joe Biden ruined a golden bipartisan moment this week by insisting that Congress pass another bill in addition to the infrastructure framework agreed to by a bipartisan group of senators.

“Less than two hours after publicly congratulating our colleagues and endorsing the bipartisan agreement, the president took the extraordinary step of threatening to veto it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) bemoaned Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday, Biden vowed that he would not sign any infrastructure bill into law unless Congress passed a separate multitrillion-dollar bill stuffed with many other Democratic priorities, including billions for child care and a multi-year extension of a new child allowance program set to begin next month.

“I'm not just signing the bipartisan bill and then forgetting about the rest of it,” Biden explained.

While McConnell called Biden's ultimatum a "headspin," the White House's infrastructure plan has always been divided into two parts: an "American Jobs Plan" and an "American Families Plan," which Republicans strongly oppose.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of ten Republicans who endorsed the bipartisan framework earlier this month, bolstering its momentum, went so far as to call Biden's remarks "extortion."

“I don't mind working with the other side for the common good, but I'm not going to be extorted by liberal Democrats or anyone else,” Graham tweeted Thursday.

As negotiations on a bipartisan infrastructure bill continued in recent weeks, it was not a secret that Democrats would use the budget reconciliation process to bypass Republicans and approve some version of the families plan with only 50 yes votes in the Senate. All that has happened is that the likely process has come into focus, with Democratic leaders linking the bills more explicitly this week as a result of the budget reconciliation process.

McConnell and other Republicans have expressed interest in a bipartisan infrastructure agreement, ostensibly to scuttle the rest of Biden's agenda. By agreeing to a $1.2 trillion package focused on traditional infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, and waterways, which they support, they hope to make additional spending on other progressive priorities unpalatable to Democratic moderates.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), another Republican senator who supported the bipartisan infrastructure framework, is seeking assurances from Democratic moderates that if he votes for the bipartisan bill, he will not be forced to support a reconciliation bill.

However, Manchin stated his support for another bill on Thursday, calling reconciliation "inevitable."

“There will be a reconciliation bill; we just don’t know the size,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, McConnell's actions may determine the fate of the bipartisan infrastructure deal. He appeared to work against the same bipartisan group when they hammered out a coronavirus relief compromise in December. After Democratic leaders embraced the group's $908 billion coronavirus relief package, McConnell introduced his own competing proposal and chastised Democrats for their "all-or-nothing tacti

The bipartisan infrastructure bill will take weeks to become actual legislation, and it will face particularly difficult twists and turns when combined with the reconciliation bill, but Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) reminded reporters that many commentators had counted them out on the coronavirus relief bill.

“Don’t forget about the 908 package in December, which you also said would never pass,” Warner added.

Nonetheless, with progressives pressing from the left and Republicans pressing from the right, enacting a bipartisan infrastructure package will necessitate masterful legislating in the coming months.

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