Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) moved on Monday to schedule a key test vote for Wednesday for a bipartisan infrastructure bill endorsed by President Joe Biden, despite warnings from Republicans that they’ll block the upper chamber from moving forward.
Schumer’s maneuvering sets up the test vote for Wednesday. He’ll need 60 votes, including the support of at least 10 Republicans, in order to advance a shell bill, into which senators would swap the text of the bipartisan deal once it is finished.
Schumer stressed the Wednesday vote would be the first step and that senators were just agreeing to start up a debate if they voted “yes” and it was not a hard deadline for the bipartisan group to wrap up its work.
Senate Republicans said they do not plan to vote to advance a $1 trillion infrastructure package on Wednesday unless they see the text of the legislation and the two parties can agree on how to pay for the plan.
The measure would dedicate funding to traditional infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and waterways. Democrats intend for the bill to be followed by a second, much larger measure later this year to fund social spending programs.
But last week, Republicans warned that Schumer scheduled the vote too quickly and while negotiations were still happening to resolve differences in the bill that may cost critical support. By Monday afternoon, problems remained. Yet in this case, Republican said there’s no rush to make good on an agreement Biden touted beside five of them at the White House.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Monday, “We need to see the bill before voting to go to it.” And Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the number 2 Senate Republican, warned that without the bipartisan group being finished by Wednesday, Schumer “is not going to get 60. Let’s put it that way.”
Sen. Roy Blunt )R-MO) said, “There’s no bill. You can’t expect that many Republicans to move forward on a pretty vague concept. It’s pretty much up to the majority leader. If he wants to kill the bipartisan bill, insisting on a vote before there’s a bill is a certain way to kill the bipartisan discussion.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are struggling over how to pay for the massive investment, and have made their task even harder by agreeing to scrap a provision that would have strengthened the IRS ability to collect unpaid taxes.
Schumer has set up this week as pivotal to Biden’s “two-track” infrastructure and social spending plans. In addition to the impending vote on the bipartisan infrastructure framework, he’s also set a deadline of Wednesday for his party to coalesce around a rough outline of $3.5 trillion in new spending for the rest of Biden’s agenda to tackle social programs, climate change and increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
The bipartisan infrastructure talks are continuing on Monday evening over Zoom, according to multiple sources.