Biden walks back remarks, says he didn’t mean to threaten to veto the bipartisan infrastructure bill

Joe biden
President Joe Biden makes brief remarks while hosting Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, in the Oval Office at the White House June 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images
  • President Joe Biden said he hadn’t intended to threaten a veto on a bipartisan bill.
  • Biden previously said “I’m not signing it” without passing another Democratic antipoverty plan.
  • Republicans had called Biden’s remarks “extortion” and threatened to withdraw support.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden said Saturday that he hadn’t meant to threaten a veto on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

On Thursday, Biden triggered Republican backlash when he said the infrastructure bill would need to move in “tandem” with his American Families Plan, a bill brimming with Democratic priorities like childcare and healthcare.

“If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” Biden said Thursday, referring to the sole infrastructure bill. In response, a number of Republican senators called Biden’s remarks “extortion” and threatened to withdraw their support.

“It was never suggested to me during these negotiations that President Biden was holding hostage the bipartisan infrastructure proposal unless a liberal reconciliation package was also passed,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted Friday.

On Saturday, Biden acknowledged that his comments “understandably upset some Republicans, who do not see the two plans as linked” and confirmed he would support the bipartisan infrastructure bill independently of any others.

“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,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

“The bottom line is this: I gave my word to support the Infrastructure Plan, and that’s what I intend to do,” Biden added. “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.”