Sen. Lindsey Graham encouraged President Joe Biden to support his bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure proposal, but said it could be jeopardized if Democrats signal that they intend to follow it up with their own second infrastructure package via reconciliation.
“I think the difference between this negotiation and the earlier negotiation is that we are willing to add more new money to infrastructure in this package and I am hopeful that the White House and Joe Biden stay involved, we can get there,” Graham (R-S.C.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“President Biden, if you want an infrastructure deal of a trillion dollars, it’s there for the taking, you just need to get involved and lead.”
Graham’s comments came as Senate Democrats continue to weigh spending as much as $6 trillion via the reconciliation process on their own infrastructure package if the chamber’s bipartisan talks fail — or even if the bipartisan package is approved. Graham said if Democrats go the reconciliation route, it could be “very problematic,” and called on Biden again to work with the bipartisan group.
“President Biden, you’ve got a party that’s divided, you’ve got a Republican Party that’s willing to meet you in the middle for a trillion dollars of infrastructure that could fundamentally change the way America does business in roads, ports, and bridges and accelerate electrical vehicles,” Graham said. “You’ve got to decide what kind of president you are and what kind of presidency you want.”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) doubled down on Graham’s comments about Democrats’ larger infrastructure proposal, saying it’s a “grab bag of progressive priorities.”
“It’s not about infrastructure. It’s kind of a $6 trillion grab bag of progressive priorities,” Portman said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Ours is about core infrastructure, and it is paid for.”
The bipartisan proposal, led by Portman and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), that was detailed last week offers an infrastructure plan that costs about $973 billion over five years or $1.2 trillion over eight. The plan would have $579 billion in new spending and would repurpose unspent Covid relief funds, impose a surcharge on electric vehicles, and expand the use of state and local funds for coronavirus relief.
Graham said he joined the group — featuring 10 Democrats and 10 other Republicans — as its 21st member.
“If you want to work with Republicans to spend a trillion dollars of — on infrastructure, it’s available to you,” Graham added. “If you don’t want to go that route and you pick a $6 trillion reconciliation package, I think you’ll get a lot of pushback from every Republican.”
Portman affirmed moderate Republicans’ commitment to the bipartisan bill.
“I think we’re absolutely committed to it, and I think there’s a number of others as well on both sides of the aisle,” Portman said. “Last week, I heard from a lot of my colleagues saying, ‘I just need to look at one other issue, you know, can you do this, can you do that,’ but there’s, there’s a lot of interest in having a bipartisan proposal.”