Andrew Harnik / AP
Senate Democrats are moving forward with a procedural vote Wednesday on a bill that would serve as a vehicle for President Biden’s infrastructure package, a move that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called of “honest attempt to do something”.
The vote on the roughly $ 1,000 billion package would come nearly a month after Biden appeared before the White House with a bipartisan group of senators to announce an agreement on a framework for an infrastructure plan. The measure targets investments in traditional infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water supply systems and broadband Internet expansion.
Despite bipartisan membership, finalizing the legislation, and in particular how the plan would be funded, presented obstacles. Republicans have repeatedly said they cannot support the vote to advance a bill that is not yet fully drafted.
“I think we need to see the bill before we decide whether or not to vote for it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday.
But Schumer insists Wednesday’s vote does not represent a “fish or cut bait moment” and is not an “attempt to corner anyone”.
“A ‘yes’ vote [Wednesday] is just that the Senate is ready to start debating a bipartisan infrastructure bill, ”he said at a press conference on Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday. ” No more no less. We’ve waited a month, it’s time to move on. ”
Schumer added: “If Senate Republicans vote ‘no’ tomorrow, they will deny the Senate the opportunity to consider the bipartisan infrastructure framework.”
Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who is part of that bipartisan group, said the deadline does not give the group enough time to finalize details. He told reporters on Tuesday that the group is asking Schumer to postpone the closing vote until next Monday.
“Until we have resolved all the remaining issues Wednesday is premature, but I think Monday would be enough for us to resolve any remaining issues and socialize the legislation with our colleagues so they know how they want to. vote. .”
Also a member of the group, Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, echoed Schumer’s call to postpone the vote until next week.
“There is absolutely no reason for him to vote tomorrow,” she said on Tuesday. “It does not advance the ball. It does not serve any purpose except to alienate people. So if he sincerely wants a bipartisan infrastructure bill, the right decision to make is to delay the vote until. ‘see you Monday.”
To achieve the 60 votes required to move the bill forward, all Democrats and at least 10 Republicans must be “yes.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration supported Schumer’s decision to hold the vote on Wednesday.
“This is a vote on a motion to switch to a vehicle, not a vote on the final bill,” she said during her press briefing on Tuesday. “There is nothing wrong with holding a vote on a vehicle to allow for review at this point. We fully support this, and we believe there should be support for it tomorrow.”
Even if the procedural vote fails on Wednesday, there is no indication that Republicans would withdraw from the negotiating table. Talks could continue and Schumer could bring back the bipartisan measure for another vote once the deal is finalized.
Wednesday’s vote comes as Schumer and Senate Democrats move forward on a separate set of $ 3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” that they plan to push forward without GOP support. Schumer set a separate deadline on Wednesday for an internal deal between the Senate’s 50 Democrats that they will vote to advance a budget resolution in the coming weeks.
Susan Davis of NPR contributed to this report.