Senate Majority Schummer Wants to Vote on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill This Week
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday to finalize their infrastructure proposal, saying that the Senate will begin procedural votes for the bill this week.
Back in late June it was announced there was a bipartisan infrastructure deal made between Democrats and Republicans costing 1.2 trillion dollars spent over the next 8 years. Here is a breakdown of the proposed spending.
Roads and bridges: $109 billion.
Money for transit, airports: The plan would provide $49 billion for public transit, $66 billion for railways, $25 billion for airports and $16 billion for ports and waterways.
Improving water and power systems: $55 billion would be invested in water infrastructure and $73 billion in the nation’s power structure.(Some of this money would be used to eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes).
Broadband investment: The plan would provide $65 billion to make improvements to the country’s broadband system.
Electric vehicle investment: $7.5 billion to build a network of electric vehicle chargers along highways and in rural and disadvantaged communities. The end goal is to build 500,000 chargers. Another $7.5 billion would go toward making thousands of school and transit buses electric.
Schumer announced that he will file cloture on a bill that will serve as a “vehicle” for the package on Monday, setting it up for consideration. The Senate will then vote on cloture which would limit debate with a motion to proceed on Wednesday. That vote requires 60 votes to advance, meaning that it will have to gain support from all 50 Democrats as well as at least 10 Republicans.
“All parties involved in the bipartisan infrastructure bill talks must now finalize their agreement so that the Senate can begin considering that legislation next week,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. He told reporters later on Thursday that he believes negotiators have “plenty of time to get it done.”
Schumer specified that the vote will be on a vehicle for the proposal of a House bill, meaning that the language for the Senate bipartisan proposal does not actually have to be ready by Wednesday as it can be inserted later during the amendment process. But Schummer is imposing a deadline for any outstanding issues among the bipartisan group to be resolved. This is an urgent matter if they want to pass the bill, because there is an August recess ahead. This will be when lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington for several weeks.
Senators involved in the bipartisan discussion had previously set a self imposed deadline of ironing out any remaining areas of disagreement by Thursday, although they appeared unlikely to reach that goal. The core group of negotiators huddled for a two hour long meeting on Thursday afternoon and were joined for some of that time by Steve Ricchetti, Laura Terrell and Brian Deese, members of the White House legislative team.
Senators told reporters after the meeting that they would continue to negotiate over the weekend. Paying for the bill remains an area of disagreement as senators are discussing whether to use tax enforcement as a revenue stream, an idea met with skepticism by some Republicans. Democratic Senator Jon Tester told reporters that senators are considering alternatives to tax enforcement as a pay for.
“Prospects remain good because infrastructure is so darn popular,” Senator Rob Portman, the lead Republican negotiator, told reporters after the meeting. When asked if talks were falling apart GOP Senator Mitt Romney said “absolutely not.”
“My goal this weekend is to make sure that we can all get there that we’ve got not only the agreement but we’ve got texts that people can look at so that we’re not in a situation where we say, ‘I don’t know what I’m voting on, I just hope that it’s good,’” Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski told reporters, adding that she had “delivered a whole bunch of homework assignments” during the meeting.
Democratic Senator Mark Warner was even more optimistic saying, “When we make final agreements, we’ll be able to announce a deal.”
Some Republicans argued earlier on Thursday that it was counterproductive for Schumer to say he would bring a vehicle for the bill to the floor next week. Even Republicans who would likely support the bill may vote against cloture, because they aren’t willing to vote on the shell of a bill if the legislative text has not been finalized.
“I think setting artificial deadlines is going to make it harder, not easier. Because even people on our side who might be inclined to vote for a bill, I don’t think are going to vote to get on a bill they haven’t seen,” Republican Senator John Thune the minority whip told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Senator Romney said earlier on Thursday that it was a “dereliction of duty to vote on something that hasn’t been drafted yet.”
“We’re proceeding with negotiations. We’re working out issues, we’re drafting, that’s proceeding, and we probably should reach a point where people know what they’re voting on,” Senator Romney said.
GOP Senator Bill Cassidy, another negotiator, said that he didn’t believe Schumer’s deadline “helps or hurts,” noting to reporters that “you can’t put more pressure on us than we feel internally.”
Schumer also put in place a deadline of Wednesday for all Senate Democrats “to agree to move forward” on a budget resolution laying out the instructions for crafting a separate $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. Democrats on the Budget Committee earlier this week announced an agreement on the bill, which will include several of President Biden’s priorities not included in the bipartisan proposal. As the wide ranging bill will not garner any Republican support, Democrats are hoping to pass it through reconciliation which allows legislation to be approved with a simple majority vote.
Democrats will need to be united in their support for the budget reconciliation bill in order for it to pass, though. Moderate Democrats such as Senator Joe Manchin have raised concerns about a high price tag. Manchin, who is also a member of the bipartisan group, told reporters on Thursday that he would have to “come up to speed really, really quick” on the reconciliation proposal before agreeing to it by Wednesday.
This is an ongoing story to stay up to date on the latest for this vote. Follow Blind Boys Politics on Twitter for up to the minute updates on this bipartisan infrastructure bill working its way through the Senate.