Sen. Barrasso slams Biden for flip-flopping position on signing bipartisan infrastructure bill
Sen. John Barrasso argued during an exclusive interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that “there’s no way” Republicans are going to support the nearly $1 trillion infrastructure package “if it is any way linked and connected to” the broader Democratic spending package, which the Wyoming senator called a “freight train heading towards socialism.”
Barrasso, a Republican, made the comment one day after President Biden backtracked on previous remarks he made on his intent to sign the bipartisan infrastructure package and confirmed he will “fully stand behind it.”
“The bottom line is this: I gave my word to support the infrastructure plan, and that’s what I intend to do,” Biden said in a Saturday statement. “I intend to pursue the passage of that plan, which Democrats and Republicans agreed to on Thursday, with vigor.”
Biden added: “It would be good for the economy, good for our country, good for our people. I fully stand behind it without reservation or hesitation.”
The president raised eyebrows last week after he and a group of 21 senators reached a $953 billion compromise to modernize U.S. infrastructure, but then said he would not sign the bill unless Congress also passed a broader Democratic spending package.
Biden has proposed a separate $1.8 trillion plan, titled the American Family Plan, which seeks to heavily invest in “education, health care, child care, and tax cuts for families, coupled with other investments in care for our seniors, housing, and clean energy.”
The plan has been referred to as the “human infrastructure” portion of Biden’s planned investments across the U.S.
The president told reporters Thursday he wants both packages passed “in tandem.”
The pronouncement frustrated both Republicans and Democrats on the Hill, including Barrasso, who told host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday that he will not vote for the second plan, which includes tax increases.
“I’m a doctor and I will tell you, you can get whiplash by trying to follow Joe Biden on this,” Barrasso said.
He noted that first Biden agreed with “a bipartisan bill focused on real infrastructure and within two hours he buckles to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer who say, ‘Not so fast, unless this is handcuffed to this massive tax and spending bill we’re not going to send it to the White House.’”
“So he [Biden] says, ‘Well okay I won’t sign it if it’s not tied together,” he continued. “Then you had outrage by the folks who were in the bipartisan group working with the president, and then what happens? Two days later he flip-flops again.”
Barrasso then said that Biden’s “like a weather vane going to whoever the loudest voice is at the time. “
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who was asked at a briefing about the Republican dismay, said senators should not have been surprised by the two-track strategy that Biden has publicly discussed many times before.
Biden’s comment essentially saying he refused to sign the bipartisan accord without the companion package being negotiated by Democrats, which is now eyed at nearly $6 trillion in child care, Medicare and other investments, was another step that threw the process into doubt.
“No deal by extortion!” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted on Friday. “It was never suggested to me during these negotiations that President Biden was holding hostage the bipartisan infrastructure proposal unless a liberal reconciliation package was also passed.”
In his statement on Saturday, Biden acknowledged that what he said “understandably upset some Republicans, who do not see the two plans as linked.”
“They are hoping to defeat my Families Plan,” he continued.
“So to be clear: our bipartisan agreement does not preclude Republicans from attempting to defeat my Families Plan; likewise, they should have no objections to my devoted efforts to pass that Families Plan,” he added.
Realizing he had infuriated senators who negotiated the bipartisan deal, Biden spent time making phone calls to members of Congress to keep the plan on track, Politico reported.
After Biden released his Saturday statement, negotiators including Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., reiterated support for the proposal.
Speaking with Bartiromo on Sunday, Barrasso said he spoke to “a number of members of the bipartisan group” and “they are all reluctant now to move forward.”
“They’re going to need more assurances from the president that there is no link, no connection between the bipartisan bill and this bill that the Democrats want to do,” he continued, adding that he believes Democrats will try to use reconciliation on the $6 trillion bill.
Democrats have been negotiating the potential infrastructure bill with Republicans, aiming to get at least 10 of them on board to clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold. But they’ve kept the idea of revisiting the previous 2021 budget reconciliation measure in their back pocket in case a deal cannot be reached and they want to get around the filibuster to pass a Democrats-only bill.
“But that’s going to be a high wire act for them with no safety net,” Barrasso went on to say. “There’s not going to be a single Republican in the House or Senate who’s going to vote for it.”
Barrasso said that “they’re going to be left to try the get every Democrat in the Senate, they’ll need everyone and they can only afford to lose four in the House to get this passed, which is a massive tax increase including raising the death tax.”
“Everyone will end up paying more if they do this so it’s going to be a long, hot summer for them,” he continued.
Barrasso stressed that he thinks Biden is “going to have a hard time doing it and it’s not going to happen quickly,” especially given all the “liberal programs” in the bills, which he noted are “very expensive.”
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall, Tyler Olson, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.