Senate Republicans on Wednesday rejected an attempt to start a debate on the big infrastructure deal that a bipartisan group of senators brokered with President Joe Biden, but pressure was mounting as supporters insisted he should be asked next week. Probably needs more time before another vote.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., was set to nudge the procedural vote with talks that dragged on for weeks. But Republicans mounted a filibuster, saying the bipartisan group still has some unresolved issues and the final details need to be reviewed. He sought a delay till Monday.
“We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement,” a bipartisan group of senators, 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats, said in a joint statement after the vote. Senators said they were optimistic they could finish “in the coming days”.
The nearly $1 trillion measure over five years includes about $579 billion in new spending on roads, broadband and other public works projects – the first phase of Biden’s infrastructure agenda, followed by a sweeping $3.5 trillion from Democrats next month. Measures will be taken.
Biden’s top priority is at a critical juncture, testing his ability to build bipartisan cooperation and drive economic growth in Washington.
The president traveled to Ohio on Wednesday to boost his economic policies and what he was calling his infrastructure agenda a “blue-collar blueprint for building the American economy.” He has said that Americans strongly support his plan.
However, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said that Biden’s big spending is “the last thing American families want.”
The party-line vote prevented the bill from moving forward, 51–49, and fell far short of the 60 votes required under Senate rules. Schumer eventually changed his vote to “no,” a procedural move that would allow him to reconsider quickly.
The bipartisan group has worked days with Biden allies to strike a deal that would be the first phase of the president’s final package of $4 trillion-plus household outlays — not just for roads and bridges, but including child care. Foundations of everyday life, family tax breaks, education, and expanding Medicare to seniors.
The next steps are uncertain, but the bipartisan group says it is close to a deal and is expected to conclude soon.