President Biden tried to shore up his crumbling bipartisan infrastructure deal in the face of Republican fury Saturday — by claiming that he didn’t mean to say he’d hold the legislation hostage to a monster $4 trillion social-spending bill that Democrats could pass on a party-line vote.
“That statement understandably upset some Republicans,” Biden admitted in a lengthy statement, two days after he told reporters “I’m not signing” the bipartisan deal “if this is the only thing that comes to me.”
“My comments,” Biden said Saturday, “created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent.”
On Thursday, Biden and a group of 10 moderate Republican and Democrat senators celebrated outside the White House as they announced a $1.2 trillion, eight-year package of traditional infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and utility systems.
But hours later, amid left-wing Democrats’ protests, Biden appeared to renege on the deal.
In a second appearance Thursday, Biden said he would let the infrastructure bill stall unless Congress passed a second, much larger bill stuffed with tax hikes and social spending measures that Republicans bitterly oppose — and that Senate Dems could pass on their own under budget reconciliation rules.
“If they don’t come, I’m not signing it. Real simple,” Biden said.
The apparent bait-and-switch led some Republicans, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bail on the deal.
“I don’t mind bipartisanship, but I’m not going to do a suicide mission,” Graham told Politico.
“I think my members think they needed the chiropractor because they got whiplash after watching the president yesterday,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Friday — calling the presidential switcheroo “disingenuous in every shape or form.”