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"We Have A Deal?" Nope-- Republicans Blew It Up Immediately

By this morning, Republican "compromisers" had already started bailing on the Manchin-Portman-Biden conservative "compromise" on infrastructure. Lindsey Graham, who wasn't one of the 5 conservatives-called-moderates who met with Biden yesterday-- Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney and Bill Cassidy-- was the first of the 11 Republicans who had been part of the process to announce he's changed his mind and is now opposing the bill. He told Politico hours after Biden had announced "we have a deal" that he's out. "If he's gonna tie them together, he cam forget it," hissed Graham. "I’m not doing that. That’s extortion! I’m not going to do that. The Dems are being told you can’t get your bipartisan work product passed unless you sign on to what the left wants, and I’m not playing that game... Most Republicans could not have known that. There's no way. You look like a fucking idiot now. I don’t mind bipartisanship, but I’m not going to do a suicide mission."

And Jerry Moran (R-KS) was next-- and for the same reason. He's saying he won't vote for it unless Manchin and Sinema agree to kill the reconciliation bill the Democrats are putting together.

And then McConnell pronounced the whole thing DOA. So that's that. As Jonathan Chait wrote today, "Within hours of the White House press conference, conservatives began registering bitter opposition. The source of their anger is that Biden promised progressive Democrats he would pass another measure, increasing social spending and raising taxes on the rich, along with the infrastructure deal... The Republican public argument is that tying the two bills together represents a betrayal. The position that the parties can work together only if the majority party refuses to pass partisan bills is not one Republicans supported when they held majorities. Nor, for that matter, did Democrats ever make such a demand when they were in the minority. During Donald Trump’s first two years, Republicans worked on partisan legislation to cut taxes for the wealthy and repeal Obamacare, while Democrats negotiated (unsuccessful) deals on immigration reform, and then successful bills to provide COVID relief. The Democratic Party view was that bipartisan dealmaking could operate on a separate track from partisan legislation. The parties would fight on issues they disagree on, and cooperate where they agreed. McConnell has always treated Democratic partisan legislation as a kind of offense that compels total warfare in retaliation. McConnell’s calculation may be cold, but it is probably not wrong. He has been admirably clear about his strategy in the past."

It's now up to Biden to persuade Manchin (rational and possibly persuadable) and Sinema (irrational and not persuadable) to proceed with a reconciliation package that includes physical and soft infrastructure as one package without the Republicans. Maybe Manchin can convince his pals Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to give it a bipartisan patina but the 50 Democrats have to be ready to do this alone, the same way they passed the COVID relief package on their own with no Republican votes. That's what the voters elected Biden and do and why the voters took the Senate away from the GOP, defeating 3 Republican incumbents in red states.

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