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Image: Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Capitol, on Jan. 7, 2021.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Graham's new plan: Leave DC to derail Dems' infrastructure plan

How badly does Lindsey Graham want to derail Democrats' infrastructure plans? He's prepared to flee Capitol Hill. Could this work?


Last week, a group of Texas Democratic legislators, desperate to block an odious voter-suppression proposal, turned to the tactic of last resort: they left their home state, denied Texas Republicans a quorum, and brought the state Capitol in Austin to a halt.

The move appears to have given Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) an idea. USA Today reported:

Taking inspiration from Texas Democrats' bid to stop a new round of election laws in their cite, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he would leave the nation's capital to block Democrats from passing a key priority of President Joe Biden's agenda. Graham said the move may be necessary to stop Senate Democrats from passing a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, which includes many long-standing Democratic priorities regarding social services, the environment and infrastructure.

"[T]o my Republican colleagues, we may learn something from our Democratic friends in Texas when it comes to avoiding a $3.5 trillion tax and spend package: leave town," he told Fox News' Maria Bartiromo.

When the host pressed the senator on whether he was serious about trying to derail the upcoming legislation by fleeing D.C., Graham added, "Hell yeah, I would leave!"

It wasn't long before many started wondering whether this could work. The answer is, almost certainly not.

Right off the bat, the thresholds matter: in Texas, the legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds to conduct state business. In the U.S. Senate, meanwhile, it's a simple majority: 51 senators are needed to conduct business.

At this point, you're probably thinking, "But wait, aren't there are only 50 members of the Senate Democratic conference? One short of 51?" The answer is yes, but that would mean Graham's gambit -- if he seriously intended to pursue this -- would need the cooperation of literally every other Republican senator.

That's unlikely to happen.

What's more, Bloomberg's Steven Dennis argued that if the Senate GOP conference actually tried to pull this off, Democrats would probably start seeking unanimous consent on their proposals. If even one Republican senator stuck around to object, there would necessarily be a quorum in the chamber.

But let's also not brush past the motivations at play: Lindsey Graham likes the idea of having Republicans flee Capitol Hill, not in support of a noble cause, but because Democrats are eyeing a legislative package that would, among other things, expand Medicare and address the climate crisis.

The South Carolinian should probably consider a Plan B.