Graham: Bipartisan infrastructure pay-fors are insufficient

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the top  Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, says his colleagues need to come up with additional pay-fors to cover the cost of an eight-year, $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal.

“We don’t have enough pay-fors. It’s not so much not supporting the ones we got, it’s just it’s not enough,” Graham said Monday leaving the Capitol after a late-afternoon vote. 

He said members of the bipartisan group will meet Tuesday to further discuss the emerging legislation.

Graham is a member of 21 senators who have endorsed the bipartisan framework, including 11 Republicans, 9 Democrats and one independent who caucuses with Democrats.   

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), another member of the bipartisan group, also voiced concerns about the deal on Monday. He pointed specifically to a promise Democratic leaders have made to liberal members of their party that the bipartisan bill will be tied to a much larger reconciliation package, which could cost between $3.5 trillion and $4 trillion.

“A lot is still unknown to me. And in particular, I’m still troubled by the suggestion that both bills are tied together,” he said. “I’m for an infrastructure bill. I don’t think we ought to spend $6 trillion.” 

Moran said he supported the bipartisan infrastructure framework because he hoped it would make it less likely that Democrats would exploit the Senate’s rules to bypass regular order and the filibuster. 

“If the outcome is that with 51 votes that the Democrats get everything they wanted in the first place, then I don’t understand what the purpose of this agreement is,” he said.

Senate Republicans are also growing skeptical over whether the proposed pay-fors in the bipartisan framework will offset its $1.2 trillion price tag. 

GOP proponents of the package say it represents $579 billion in new spending over the current budget baseline over the next five years.  

There are growing doubts about whether some of the pay-fors will raise as much money as the authors of the legislation claim.

One controversial claim is that spending another $40 billion on Internal Revenue Service enforcement will net $100 billion in new tax revenues. 

Another disputed claim is that spending $8 billion on strengthening “program integrity” rules for unemployment benefits will net $72 billion in savings.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said a lot will depend on the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill’s costs and offsets.

“It’s going to affect a lot of people’s thinking,” she said.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told reporters Monday that the bipartisan negotiators still need to hammer out the pay-fors for the proposal. 

“We don’t what’s in it yet,” he said. “We’re going to wait and look at the final thing. There are still a lot of negotiations going on. 

Asked how locked-down the pay-fors are, Rounds said: “I don’t think they’re totally locked down. I think that’s still a matter for discussion.”

Tags Jerry Moran Lindsey Graham Mike Rounds Shelley Moore Capito

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