Biden Says Republicans 'Understandably Upset' After Infrastructure Appeared Tied to Families Plan

President Joe Biden said Saturday he never intended to portray the idea he would veto a bipartisan infrastructure plan. He said Thursday while making the announcement of a bipartisan agreement, he wouldn't sign the infrastructure deal if his American Families Plan was not part of the package.

"I indicated that I would refuse to sign the infrastructure bill if it was sent to me without my Families Plan and other priorities, including clean energy," the president said. "That statement understandably upset some Republicans, who do not see the two plans as linked; they are hoping to defeat my Families Plan—and do not want their support for the infrastructure plan to be seen as aiding passage of the Families Plan.

"My comments also created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent."

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers remarks alongside Vice President Kamala Harris on the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure deal at the White House on June 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden said both sides made compromises on the nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy accused the president of holding the bill "hostage" by saying the Families Plan has to be tied in with infrastructure.

"There's a lot of conversations taking place right now as to what the president meant," Cassidy said Friday. "That was not the understanding as we began upon these good faith negotiations. So I'm hoping we continue in good faith and it won't be as if we crafted something just to give the president a point of leverage to get something that Republicans disagree with."

Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who helped negotiate the bipartisan deal, said he was on the phone playing "damage control" after the president's comments.

"I've been on the phone with the White House, my Democratic colleagues, my Republican colleagues, all darn day," Portman said Friday.

Sen. Lindsey Graham called the president's wish to tie the Families Plan with infrastructure an act of "extortion."

"If he's gonna tie them together, he can forget it!" said Graham, a South Carolina Republican. "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."

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan agreement is designed to improve physical infrastructure in the country, including roads and bridges, replacing old water pipes in schools and homes, mammoth investments in rail systems and clean energy investments. Biden said the plan would "help this country compete with China and other economic rivals" and also "create millions of high-paying jobs that could not be outsourced."

The American Families Plan "would make historic investments in education, health care, child care, and tax cuts for families, coupled with other investments in care for our seniors, housing, and clean energy," the president said.

Biden said his intention is to pass a bipartisan infrastructure deal like the one negotiated and agreed upon last week.

"I have been clear from the start that it was my hope that the infrastructure plan could be one that Democrats and Republicans would work on together, while I would seek to pass my Families Plan and other provisions through the process known as reconciliation. There has been no doubt or ambiguity about my intention to proceed this way," Biden said.

"The bottom line is this: I gave my word to support the Infrastructure Plan, and that's what I intend to do. I intend to pursue the passage of that plan, which Democrats and Republicans agreed to on Thursday, with vigor. It would be good for the economy, good for our country, good for our people. I fully stand behind it without reservation or hesitation."

Biden said he will now ask Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to bring both the infrastructure and reconciliation plans to Congress for action, and that he feels certain both will pass the House of Representatives.

"Ultimately, I am confident that Congress will get both to my desk, so I can sign each bill promptly," Biden said.