In the wake of Democrats and Republicans supposedly coming together in agreement on an infrastructure bill this week, President Joe Biden virtually admitted that the bipartisan agreement was political theater if a threat that he issued shortly after the announcement is true.
According to the Washington Examiner, it wasn’t more than a few hours after Biden and the White House bragged about the party “compromise” on his infrastructure bill that the president immediately released his terms and conditions on signing the deal, which hinges on the signing of a “tandem” bill to please Democrats.
“If this [bipartisan deal] is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” Biden stated. “It’s in tandem.”
What does Biden mean?
Republicans and Democrats were only able to reach a compromise on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package after Democrats essentially agreed to strip out billions of items that most Republicans do not consider to be appropriate in a traditional infrastructure bill.
As a result, countless pet projects that Democrats were counting on being included in the bill were put aside, but Biden’s threat indicated that he’s still looking out for members of his party, as he essentially said that unless the second, pork-filled bill isn’t sent to his desk in tandem with the “compromised” infrastructure bill, he’s not taking out his pen.
Some of the extra items requested by Democrats, which are clearly not “infrastructure,” include free community college, child care, and paid leave programs.
Given how hard Republicans fought against including Democrats’ hundreds of billions in fluff in the original bill, it’s not a stretch to presume that they’ll fight tooth and nail to make sure the second “soft” infrastructure bill never sees the light of day, meaning that if Biden isn’t bluffing in his threat, the compromised version of the infrastructure legislation also won’t be signed into law.
According to National Review, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has pledged that both bills will move through the upper chamber in July.
“I’m not playing that game”
Just hours after Biden stood with a bipartisan group of members of Congress boasting about being reminded of “when we used to get an awful lot done up in the United States Congress,” Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), were already sounding the alarm about the promise Biden made to Democrats to push their social spending bill alongside the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“That’s extortion! I’m not going to do that,” Graham said, according to the Intelligencer. “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.”
Other Republican leaders, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also condemned the idea, solidifying the likely outcome that neither bill will be passed in their current forms, which takes everyone back to the drawing board.
With any luck, and if Republicans continue to do their jobs, the support clock will soon run out for the Biden administration’s hopes of cramming through such a monumentally expensive bill — or set of bills — while Republicans prepare to reclaim a majority position in the lower chamber.