Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday beseeched President Joe Biden for bipartisan cooperation as Democrats moved to pass a coronavirus relief bill with or without GOP support, arguing that politics “doesn’t have to be a fight to the death all the time.”
While arguing against Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan – which Democrats are attempting to pass through budget reconciliation, a process that allows bills to be passed with a simple majority – Graham called on Biden to tell Democrats to “slow down.”
In typical form for Republicans as of late, Graham seized on Biden’s campaign pledge of “unity” to argue against the bill, stating that it’s going to “make this place less unified” and declaring, “If you’re looking for unity, this is a lousy way to get it.”
The comments come amid the backdrop of Graham’s refusal to hold a confirmation hearing next week for Merrick Garland, Biden’s nominee for attorney general, even as he only remains chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee because senators have not yet passed a resolution giving Democrats control.
Graham, a Trump ally who broke with the former president by voting against objections to electoral votes, once again reaffirmed Biden’s victory, stating “you won. We lost. You are the legitimate president of the United States.”
Graham also cited multiple areas of policy where Republicans in Congress and the administration can work together, calling Biden’s plan on Afghanistan “darn good” and arguing an infrastructure bill is “there for the taking.”
“It doesn’t have to be a fight to the death all the time,” said Graham.
“Calls for unity aren’t supposed to be a political baseball bat,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a speech immediately following Graham’s. “They’re supposed to be about finding common ground. Not about stalling for the sole purpose of stalling.”
“This will be the first time I can recall we’ve spent $1.9 trillion based on one party’s view of things,” Graham said, despite the fact that – as commentators noted – Republicans passed a similarly-expensive tax bill through reconciliation in 2017 without a single Democratic vote.
$600 billion. That’s the size of a plan proposed by 10 GOP senators who met with Biden on Monday – a plan Biden rejected as “way too small.” Graham expressed support for the plan in his speech, stating “count me in. If you can work something out I’d like to be able to help.”
What To Watch For
Democrats are moving forward with their plan to pass relief through reconciliation with Biden’s blessing, but it’s not yet clear they can muster the votes to pass it. Even as he voted to advance the budget resolution, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has expressed opposition to some provisions in the plan, particularly a $15 minimum wage hike.