Nov 4, 2021
Sen. Lindsey Graham Press Conference on Biden, Reconciliation Bill Transcript
Senator Lindsey Graham held a press conference on November 4, criticizing President Biden and the Democrats’ reconciliation bill. Read the transcript of his briefing here.
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Senator Graham: (00:04)
Speaker 2: (00:05)
Senator Graham: (00:06)
I got a sell out. So anyway, I’m Senator Graham from South Carolina. I’m the ranking member of the Budget Committee on the Senate side, on the Republican side. And I’ve got some thoughts I’d like to share with the media and with the country about what’s going on in the House. There’s an effort, I think, today to start the process to pass a reconciliation bill, not just a bipartisan $1.3 trillion infrastructure package, which I voted for, but a bill that I think is a fraud. That’s going to be a pouring gasoline on inflation problems we have in the country. And the reconciliation bill in the House rewards special interest at the expense of the public at large.
Senator Graham: (01:00)
So there’s the process, and there’s the substance. When we passed our tax cut bill in 2017 using reconciliation, Republicans held hearings and committees in the Senate, we had markups and people had a chance to weigh in as to what we were doing. In the committee process we had hearings so the public could understand how the tax cuts worked. None of that has been done. The more you know about the democratic proposal, the less you would like it. So if I were them I’d be doing this too, I guess, if you just wanted an outcome. But what’s happening in America and you saw it in Virginia and throughout the country, there’s a backlash against this big government liberalism. There’s a backlash drawing in this country about the state of the economy. Inflation is growing and the more we spend here in Washington, the more we spend in government, the worse that problem’s going to be. At the end of the day, people are going to have to be informed meaningfully about what’s in these packages, and as of this moment, it’s all behind closed doors. We’re sort of guessing as what’s going to make it.
Senator Graham: (02:12)
After the elections Tuesday night, Speaker Pelosi added in provisions, she’s getting pushed from the left. Everybody’s got an opinion about the Tuesday night election. Here’s my opinion, that blue states and blue cities are yelling at the left wing of the democratic party, you’re nuts. Slow down. Now why I’d say that? In Minneapolis, there was an effort to disband the police department that went down in flames. The president of the New Jersey State Senate of the longest serving members of the New Jersey State Senate is likely to lose to a Republican who spent $153, is a truck driver, I’m sure he is a fine man. How do you explain that? This is a backlash. When it comes to Virginia racial dog whistles led to the outcome in Virginia, really when you elect the first African American woman statewide office holder as a Republican, a retired Marine, believes in amendment and supports parents having a right to have a voice regarding their children’s education. So there’s a historic night in Virginia, the first African American woman elected statewide.
Senator Graham: (03:32)
When you add all this up, you need to listen to my democratic friends, we’ve found ourselves in this boat too, we’ve gone too far on our side. In New York, there was initiative on the ballot statewide to go to same day voter registration and it was rejected, cause people are worried about gaming the system. There was a provision on the ballot, a referendum in New York, basically allowing the state to mail out absentee ballots whether they were requested or not, that got defeated. This is New York, it’s not South Carolina. So Virginia, I think, is a telling story about the power of ideas and going too far.
Senator Graham: (04:24)
This process, our democratic colleagues are using to spend trillions of dollars is a bad precedent to set, and quite frankly, it stinks. I think people in the House should have hearings about their bills before they vote on it, there is no CBO score. In the Senate for you to have a privileged status, a bill to be privileged under reconciliation, you have to have a CBO score. That hasn’t been done. This train is moving so fast in the House, they’ve blown by hearings, they’ve blown by bipartisan markups and they don’t even have a score from the Congressional Budget Offices, which is required in the Senate. So the product coming out of the House, if it makes it over here, is dead on arrival until we get a CBO score.
Senator Graham: (05:13)
Now, they’ve settled on a $1.75 trillion reconciliation package is what they say, our democratic colleagues say about the latest reconciliation bill. Well, the Wharton School of Business did an analysis and they believe it’s more than four trillion. Now the Wharton School of Business, I don’t think is a bastion of right wing politics, they went through the $1.75 trillion bill and found out it’s really more like four trillion because there’s so many games and gimmicks in the bill. And this is why you need to have hearings, so I’m the ranking member of the Budget Committee and I promise you, I will invite these folks from Wharton to come in and explain their analysis to us. Whether or not Senator Sanders allows me to do that as part of the committee, I will do it as a side event, but I want the public to understand that the bill being sold to you is 1.75 trillion is in essence, closer to four in my view. A lot of the programs are shortened knowing that they will never go away. There are a lot of games and gimmicks. And so it’s actually over double what they said is. What does that mean to you? That means more debt for you and your children and that means more inflation at a time we don’t need anymore.
Senator Graham: (06:37)
So number one, the price tag is being manipulated, and I think it’s a fraud and we’ll ask the Wharton people to come and explain their analysis. There’s some provisions in this bill that are just mind blowing to me. I believe climate change is real, I think electric vehicles will help solve the problem over time, there’re tax credits in the tax code today to incentivize people to buy electric cars in the name of expediting lowering emissions in the transportation sector and electric vehicles will certainly do that over time.
Senator Graham: (07:14)
Well, what’s happened in the House bill, they’ve changed the electric car tax credit in the following way. The $7,500 tax credit is now available under current law to all these people who make cars, like 50 different types of cars made by company all over the world. BMW makes cars in South Carolina, so dose Volkswagen, they have plans to electrify their fleet, the tax credit is an incentive to do that. Well, what have they done in the House? They’ve changed the electric vehicle tax credit so that if you’re not a union company, if you don’t have a union workforce, you lose the bulk of the tax credit. So we go from 50 vehicles eligible for the $7,500 to two, two Chevy cars. And why do they get the tax credit? Because the plants that make these cars are unionized. If you truly cared about the environment, why would you take all these companies out of the game and reduce the amount of electric vehicles that could come from a variety of sources down to two?
Senator Graham: (08:33)
To me, this is pretty offensive. Unions have the right to organize and that’s part of America. But the House Democrats are saying openly that the tax credit for electric vehicles under their construct, the $4,500, the big part of it, will only be eligible for companies that hire union workers. That is bad for the environment and is bad for business and I don’t think it’s legal. So BMW and Volkswagen came to South Carolina to assemble and make cars and they will be denied this tax credit if they produce an electric vehicle because of the nature of their workforce. This is offensive politics, it’s bad economics, and it’s bad for the environment. And if this bill ever gets over here, we’re going to address this.
Senator Graham: (09:32)
Expanding the child text credit. There’s no social security number required to be eligible for the child tax credit. What does that mean? That means people can get the child tax credit and not citizens. All you need is a tax ID number and there’s no proof of citizenship required. So we have an illegal immigration problem in this country we’re at all time highs in terms of illegal crossings, expanding the child tax credit in this fashion is going to incentivize more illegal immigration. Word will spread if you can get to America and get a tax ID number, your children will get a tax credit from the federal government. This is the wrong policy at the wrong time. And I hope hardworking Americans who are paying into the system will realize that expanding the tax credits to allow illegal immigrants to get the tax credit makes every problem worse. The debt problem worse, the immigration pro worse.
Senator Graham: (10:37)
So I don’t know what’s going to happen today, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but I do know this. This bill is not 1.75 trillion, it’s more like four trillion, and that’s not some right wing group saying that that’s the Wharton Business School in Pennsylvania. That electric vehicles tax credits has turned into a gift to special interest, unions. You go from 50 vehicles eligible for the electric vehicle tax credit to two. So the House bill rewards the union workforce at the expense of the environment and just basic fairness. And finally, the expansion of the tax tax credit is done in such a fashion that your hard earned tax dollars will be now going to people here illegally. I just think there’s so many other things I could talk about, but these three really jump out at me and I’ll do everything in my power if it ever gets to the Senate to make sure a CBO score is achieved, that we have some transparency we don’t have today. And that we’ll change some of these provisions and try to kill this thing before it starts.
Senator Graham: (11:51)
It’s not like I can’t work with Democrats on infrastructure, I did. I was one in 19 Republicans voting for an infrastructure package of 1.3 trillion that had electric vehicle expansion in it. That was for roads, bridges, and ports. Was it perfect? No, but it made sense to me. What’s coming on top of that is not 1.75 trillion, it’s at least double that in terms of actual cost over time, and it’s riddled special interest provisions that I think should be offensive to the American people. And what happened Tuesday is going to continue to grow in terms of political moment minimum. If they shove these bills down our throat. And right now the Democratic Party is shoving a massive expansion of government down the throat of the Republican Party, down the throat of the American people, and I will do everything I can to stop this. With that will take questions from you.
Speaker 2: (12:53)
[inaudible 00:12:53] Speaking of budget, the Build Back Better Bill has a lot of stuff that materially benefits parents like childcare, universal pre-K and the child tax credit, but it’s temporary to save budget headroom and the child tax credit will expire, if they pass this bill, it’ll are at the end of next year. And where would you be? Where will the Republican Party be on whether that should expire or if it should continue to say without the social security change that they’re trying to make?
Senator Graham: (13:26)
Well, this is why you’d want to have a markup in a hearing to find out exactly what would happen to the child tax credit if it expired. And here’s my caution right now, the economy has an inflationary problem, this makes it worse. The more you expand government, the more money you put in the system, the more inflation you’re going to have. Now’s not the time to do these policies. In terms of expanding the child tax credit, I require social security number as a minimum. But all these programs that are designed to grow the government and give people free stuff, come with a cost. Should the first two years of community college be free? I don’t think so. Everything gets free to the point you can’t afford it. So I want to have a timeout on massive expansion of government and spending until we get our economy in better shape and have an intelligent discussion about where would we want to go in area of education and providing help to families out there working. This is not an intelligent discussion. Yes, sir.
So the DOJ didn’t get back to the judiciary committee report Republicans request about the school’s memo. And I wonder where your thought of the impact that was on the Virginia election and did you think that linked the Biden administration to that issue in Virginia?
Senator Graham: (14:51)
Well as you get back to trying to figure out what happened in Virginia, you can’t ignore what happened in Minneapolis and you can’t ignore what happened in New Jersey, you can’t ignore what happened in Brooklyn… Not Brooklyn, I’m sorry. What was the town in New York?
Senator Graham: (15:09)
Buffalo. I’m sorry. Sorry to all those folks in Brooklyn. In Buffalo, you had a write in candidate beat the AOC back candidate for mayor. So school involvement by parents was a hot button issue. The statement by McAuliffe about parents should sort of be shut out, I think had a big effect. But it’s not just about the school issue, it’s about too much, going in the wrong direction. That we want to reform the police but no, we don’t want to do away with the Minneapolis Police Department. We don’t want Buffalo to be in the hands of an devote socialist. We don’t want same day registration in New York cause it’s subject to fraud. So I would say that the discussion around education was a big part of the debate in Virginia. The memo that led Garland to make the announcement that did send the FBI into school boards blew up in their face. I believe in law and order, if you act out inappropriately at school board you can be dealt with, I don’t think that’s the job for the FBI. The fact that they won’t give us this information.
Senator Graham: (16:26)
Here’s what I think is going to happen. Democrats need to fear parents more than they do teachers’ unions. Right now politically, they’re in the hands of the teacher unions. That’s how this memo came about. It was a result of people on the left pushing the Department of Justice, the silence parents were off. A man was arrested because the way he behaved at a school board meeting because his daughter was raped in a bathroom. I’m not making this up, the judge who heard the case said it happened. I think that’s what happened. I think that the Democratic Party’s being pushed by the teachers’ unions to the point that people who have kids in school have had enough of it. They’re tired of the concept of their child being blamed for something they didn’t do called critical race theory. And you’re going to see more of this, not less of this, so we’ll see if they comply with the request. If they don’t, this issue stays alive and well.
Speaker 2: (17:30)
Senator speaking of Virginia and parents, it seems like there’s a real sharp contrast forming where Republicans are talking about making sure parents are happy with schools and Democrats are talking about materially benefiting parents with direct cash payments, childcare and expanding access to pre-kindergarten. Can you just talk a little bit more about why you think the Republican idea would prevail?
Senator Graham: (17:54)
Well, here’s what I think. I think parents who have kids in school right now would like to have more say not less about what happens in their school. I think there’s some policies being pushed out there that have resulted, the bathroom assault and the school in Virginia was unnerving in a couple of ways, is pushing a policy that I think needs to stop being pushed and we need to slow down and evaluate how you do some of this stuff. And the main thing that they were lied to.
Senator Graham: (18:22)
Now, should kindergarten be a federal right? Should college be a federal right? No, no. I want to help people, but the federal government is on a march here to take over everything. And I think people are saying, whoa, time out. I know you want to help me, the best way you can help me is let me make more decisions, not less. Let me have control over my children at least a say about my children’s education and let me go out and get a job and quit driving up the cost of doing business. Because as you give people more money, it is being eaten up by inflation. And why do we have an inflationary spiral in this country? Gas prices are up, food prices up, housing prices are up. And the more you expand government, the worse that problem gets. So I am for a time out on all this big government stuff. Yes, sir.
Speaker 4: (19:14)
Question on elections and votings and submission at the beginning. Given the fact that Glen Youngkin was able to prevail by, I think, about two points in Virginia, which is a state that has a lot of democratic enacted more liberal voting measures in place, such as automatic voter registration, they got rid of photo ID earlier this year. Do you not think that that sort of disproves the case that a lot of Republicans make that these sorts of election measures are partisan and just supposed to be for Democrats?
Senator Graham: (19:47)
I don’t pretend to be an expert on Virginia voting law. I can say it was a free and fair election in Virginia. And Virginia has set up a system it seems to be working, and I’d rather Virginia to do that. The John Lewis Bill, John Lewis was a great man, but what we’re talking about here is that the Supreme Court ruled that I think section four of the Civil Rights Bill, pre-clearance of certain Southern state, the formula was outdated. In South Carolina and throughout the country we had the highest voter participation in the last election in my lifetime. So this is about a power grab, these federal bills are about a power grab. And maybe the Virginia model is something people want to look at. I think we ran a good election in South Carolina and we do have voter ID requirements. So I want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. Thank you very much. [crosstalk 00:20:34] One last question.
I was wondering. Excuse me, President Biden yesterday ruled out the $450,000 payments to illegal immigrants, will you and your judiciary committee, Republican colleagues try to like look into where this idea came from? It seemed like the President was taken off guard by it.
Senator Graham: (20:55)
Well, I think it came from the Washington Post maybe, or some media organization said that there were discussing a program within the Department of Justice and other agencies to compensate people due to family separations as a result of coming into the country illegally. President Biden said that was garbage. Now they went about 10 days and never denied the report until after Virginia. So I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that it was garbage. I don’t think this reporting was made up. I think what happened is that they got soundly beaten in Virginia and they’re changing their tune, but we’ll never know until we find out what is actually being planned.
Senator Graham: (21:33)
Were there discussions about paying for family separation due to illegal crossings in this country? I think the attorney general needs to come clean with us about whether or not that was a serious proposal and was President Biden being honest with us when he said it was all garbage. If it was in fact being considered, then it’s clearly not garbage. One of two things, he’s misleading us or he just didn’t know. He may be right, maybe it was all garbage, maybe it was bad reporting. But the ACLU the moment he said that came out hard and said, what are you talking about? We need to pay these people. We need a just system. So I would think the ACLU challenging Biden makes me believe that there was consideration going on in the Department of Justice and other places under the theory of the ACLU to make a more just society you got to pay these people.
Senator Graham: (22:26)
The reason he said that is they took beating, my democratic colleagues, in Virginia, and this went over like a lead balloon paying people $450,000, more than a soldier killed in battle because of family separation policies that a result of our own laws. Thanks [inaudible 00:22:45] I called on you.