Sen. Lindsey Graham accused Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday of trying to thwart ongoing negotiations over a bipartisan infrastructure bill by scheduling an initial test vote before the measure’s text has been finalized.
“We’re not going to proceed to a bill that’s not written, because that makes no sense,” Graham (R-SC) told Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
Earlier Monday, Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on a motion to proceed to debate on the $1.2 trillion package, the details of which are still being hammered out by a group of senators from both parties. One of the lead negotiators, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), has accused Schumer of setting an “arbitrary deadline” of Wednesday to finish writing the bill.
“Chuck Schumer’s trying to blow this effort up … Filing cloture on a bill that doesn’t exist is insane,” Graham said before imploring President Biden to “get on the phone to Schumer and tell him to stand down.”
“Tell him that ‘You’re undercutting an effort to find common ground on infrastructure regarding roads, bridges and ports,’” he added. “You can tell Schumer to stop. Whether he will or not, I don’t know, but you should at least try to stop them from blowing this up.”
Even if the bill passes the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she will not bring it up for a vote until Schumer forces through a $3.5 trillion spending package via reconciliation, which only requires 51 Senate votes.
“This is a power grab,” Graham said of the larger measure. “The $3.5 trillion Democratic infrastructure package has got not a damn thing to do with infrastructure. They’re wanting to put amnesty in the infrastructure bill.”
The larger measure would include increased spending on an array of social programs, including expanded Medicare, universal preschool and child tax credit. Progressive Democrats also hope to include language paving the way for legal permanent residency or citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, an initiative Graham called “the dumbest idea in the history of the Senate.”
“Imagine if you gave legal status to illegal immigrants without first securing the border,” Graham said. “No proposal that’s ever been made in Washington gave legal status until the border was first secured … It will put jet fuel on a system that’s already broken. If you give one person legal status, there will be a run on our border like you’ve never seen before.”
The senator went on to repeat his threat to stage a walkout with his GOP colleagues if Democrats try to force the reconciliation bill through.
“I’ll leave town to prevent this,” Graham said. “If we can shut the Senate down by leaving town, we should.”