Lindsey Graham says he won't be 'extorted by liberal Democrats' over infrastructure deal

Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Sen. Lindsey Graham. Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images

Republican senators are already voicing their reasons for opposing the bipartisan infrastructure proposal unveiled on Thursday, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) revealing what would be the "ultimate deal-breaker" for him.

A bipartisan group of senators — 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans — spent weeks negotiating with top White House aides, and on Thursday afternoon the White House released details on the proposal: it calls for $973 billion in spending over five years, including $579 billion in new funds not already allocated through other projects. There would be $312 billion going to transportation, $65 billion for broadband, and $55 billion for water infrastructure. President Biden tweeted that under this plan, millions of jobs will be created.

"Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal," Biden said. "That's what it means to compromise, and it reflects something important, reflects consensus. The heart of democracy requires consensus." However, Biden also said it must work "in tandem" with a Democratic reconciliation bill containing the party's spending priorities, and if the infrastructure package "is the only thing that comes to me, I'm not signing it."

That's not going to work for Graham, who tweeted that if the "reports are accurate that President Biden is refusing to sign a bipartisan deal unless reconciliation is also passed, that would be the ultimate deal-breaker for me. 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 isn't alone. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) supports the bipartisan plan, his office told Kansas City Star reporter Bryan Lowry, but he's also in discussions with moderate Democrats, asking them to assure him that if the infrastructure bill passes, they won't push through additional spending proposals through reconciliation.

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