Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said he would take whatever legal means necessary to stop Democrats from approving their massive $3.5 trillion infrastructure package, even if it means following in the steps of Texas Democrats who fled their state to block restrictive voting legislation—a likely far-fetched proposal for the U.S. Senate, where only a simple majority of lawmakers are needed to conduct business.
Speaking to Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, Graham blasted Democrats’ infrastructure proposal for its lofty $3.5 trillion pricetag and several provisions targeting non-physical infrastructure, saying he would “use everything lawfully in [his] toolbox to prevent rapid inflation,” referencing concerns that heightened fiscal spending could drive up demand and prices.
Graham said he “would leave town” if Democrats manage to pass a reconciliation budget resolution and called on his Republican colleagues to “learn something” from Texas state Democrats who last week blocked a bill by fleeing to Washington.
The U.S. Constitution requires a quorum of 51 senators to be present for the Senate to conduct business, Graham pointed out, meaning all 50 GOP senators would need to be absent for such a tactic to work.
The controversial move is also not without repercussions: The Senate’s sergeant at arms can compel senators to go to the chamber under the threat of arrest—something that last panned out in 1988.
Though many have voiced discontent at Democrats’ infrastructure proposal, no other GOP Senators have thus far indicated they’d go to such measures to block a vote from happening.
“Hell yea I would leave,” Graham said Sunday. “If we pass that bill, you’re going to have inflation through the roof and if they put legalizing illegal immigrants in that bill you’re going to have a complete run on the border… I’d do anything I could to stop that.”
On Monday, 57 Democratic House lawmakers left the state and traveled to Washington, D.C. in order to prevent the chamber from having the necessary quorum (of two-thirds of senators) to pass a restrictive voting bill and other Republican-led legislation during a 30-day special session. The remaining members of the Texas House voted Tuesday to authorize the state sergeant at arms to call on all absentees under the threat of arrest, but the officer doesn’t have jurisdiction outside of Texas. For now, the Texas Democrats are pushing for national voting rights legislation to help squash the state’s GOP bill, and it’s still very unclear how long their efforts in Washington may last.
Though President Joe Biden first unveiled his infrastructure proposal in March, Democratic party leaders have faced opposition to the plan from Republicans and Democrats alike, prompting them to pursue two different efforts in hopes one pans out. A bipartisan group of 22 senators has been working on a much smaller $953 billion bipartisan plan since late June to quell concerns chief among Republicans—namely, that Biden’s proposal is too big and takes on too much outside traditional infrastructure. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats on Wednesday released a $3.5 trillion infrastructure framework in case they can pass a budget resolution bill later this summer. Using the Senate’s special reconciliation process, the budget resolution bill would allow Democrats to pass certain spending bills with just 51 votes instead of the usual 60, but it would still require all 50 Senate Democrats to sign on, including more moderate members like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The odds of that are still uncertain, though it’s possible Democrats may trim the size of their package to help get members on board. Manchin, for one, told reporters on Wednesday he was still concerned the $3.5 trillion plan would cost too much and wanted more details on how it would be paid for.
What To Watch For
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said Sunday the bipartisan bill could be readied as soon as this week.