It seems West Virginia's self-appointed king Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is having a hard time cashing the bipartisan checks he's been sacrificing progress for.

Enter political remora, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who appeared on "Fox News Sunday" to tell host Chris Wallace he is the bipartisan savior Democrats are looking for.



WALLACE: You're a member of the so-called bipartisan Group of 21, which is 10 Democratic senators and 11 Republican senators, who've come up with a roughly $1 trillion package on infrastructure. […] How close are you to a deal with the White House? And what's the effective deadline for reaching an agreement?

GRAHAM: I think the difference between this negotiation and the earlier negotiation is that we're willing to add more new money to infrastructure in this package and I am hopeful if the White House and Joe Biden stay involved, we can get there. I would just say this: President Biden, if you want an infrastructure deal of a trillion dollars, it's there for the taking. You just need to get involved and lead.

Really? Seems to good to be true because, like every Faustian bargain with the GOP, it is.

Wallace noted that the only way some progressive Democrats will go with this so-called bipartisan plan would be if they can continue working on a separate, bigger infrastructure bill they could pass through reconciliation. Then Wallace asked Graham if he'd still support the infrastructure compromise while understanding Democrats may yet pass another bill.

Graham's answer revealed his true intentions:

GRAHAM: That could be very problematic. […] I don't want to raise taxes to pay for it. But the gas tax hasn't been adjusted for inflation, the federal gas tax, since the 1990s. I would be willing to do that. An infrastructure bank is on the table, using unspent COVID money. So I would just say to President Biden, you've got a party that's divided. You've got a Republican Party that's willing to meet you in the middle […] You've got to decide what kind of president you are and what kind of presidency you want. So, if you want to work with Republicans to spend a trillion dollars of -- on infrastructure, it's available to you. If you don't want to go that route and you pick a $6 trillion reconciliation package, I think you'll get a lot of pushback from every Republican. […] That would be a problem for me. […] What they're calling infrastructure, the liberal left, to me, is not remotely related to what's traditionally been called infrastructure. It's just -- it's just a power grab by the Democratic Party in every area of our lives.

Graham is hoping President Biden takes this deal so the actual transformative bill can be killed at the altar of bipartisanship. Graham also doesn't want to raise taxes on the rich or corporations, which is why he mentions taking money already appropriated for COVID and suggests adjusting the gas tax for inflation, which would be a tax hike for average Americans instead. Graham clearly hopes he can appeal to Biden's sense of institutionalism and centrism.

Wallace moved on to an upcoming vote on a voting rights bill, including provisions Senator Manchin has said he supports. Wallace asked Graham if he could go with a stripped version of the For the People Act. Graham had complaints:

GRAHAM: But we had the largest turnout in the history of the United States and states are in charge of voting in America.

Yeah, we know, which is why Republicans are trying to rig it in the states so they can win permanently. Graham unironically said Democrats are "trying to fix a problem" he pretends doesn't exist (voter suppression) as more GOP state legislatures pass restrictive voting bills.

Wallace pointed out the obvious downside if Republicans vote down Manchin's watered down voting bill.

WALLACE: [I]f Republicans vote, as it appears you're going to, to kill the Manchin version of voting rights, you've already, Republicans voted to kill the bipartisan January 6th commission looking into the insurrection of the Capitol, do you run the risk that Manchin and a couple of other moderate senators will eventually say, look, bipartisanship isn't working and, you know what, we're not going to kill the filibuster but we're going to reduce the number of votes you need to stop a debate from 60 to 55? Do you run that risk?

Graham responded:

GRAHAM: I hope not […] When we had the House and the Senate and the White House, [...], I had a bunch of Democrats wanting to sign a letter with me protecting the filibuster. Every one of those Democrats have fled for the hills. So I was beat on every day. Why don't you give in and agree with President Trump to change the rules so we can get the Trump agenda through? I said, no, I don't think it would be good for the country. […] I said no because it's bad for the Senate. I hope these Democrats understand it's bad for the Senate to change the rules.

Graham was surprisingly compliant when McConnell changed the rules to help Trump cram through his Supreme Court justices, so spare us the revisionist history.

Here's hoping Manchin finally wakes up to political reality.

Have a week.

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Michael Mora

Pop Culture observer & Comics fan. Amateur Movie Reviewer. Political Freelance Writer @wonkette. Marine, Husband & Dad. Opinions are mine only.

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