WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans rejected an effort Wednesday to start a debate on the big infrastructure deal that a bipartisan group of senators brokered with President Joe Biden. But supporters of both the parties were hopeful of a better chance soon.
Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York set the procedural vote in what he described as a step to “get the ball rolling” as talks progress. But Republicans mounted a filibuster, saying the bipartisan group needs more time to work out the deal and review the details. He sought a delay till Monday.
“We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement,” the informal group of 22 senators, Republicans and Democrats, said in a joint statement after the vote.
They said they were working to “fix this important legislation” and were optimistic they could finish “in the coming days”.
The nearly $1 trillion, five-year measure 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 second $3.5 trillion from Democrats next month. Measures will be taken.
The party-line vote against moving forward was 51–49, far short of the 60 “yes” votes needed to overtake the Republican bloc. The Democratic leader eventually changed his vote to “no,” a procedural step that would allow him to proceed to reconsider.
Six months after Biden took office, his signature “Build Back Better” campaign promise is at a crucial moment that will test his hopes for a new era of bipartisan cooperation in the presidency and Washington.
Biden, who traveled to Ohio on Wednesday to promote his economic policies, is calling his infrastructure agenda a “blue-collar blueprint for building the American economy.” He has said that Americans are strongly in support of his plan.
However, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said that big spending is “the last thing American families want.”
White House aides and a bipartisan group of senators have tried to work out the deal privately every day since Sunday, which will be the first phase of a final $4 trillion-plus package of domestic outlays — not just for roads and bridges. , but also everyday life including the expansion of childcare, family tax breaks, education and Medicare for seniors to the foundation.
The next steps are uncertain, but the bipartisan group says it is close to a deal and is expected to conclude soon. The senators were joined for a private lunch before a vote by two leaders of the House Problem Solving Caucus, a bipartisan group that generally supported the effort.
Senators on the Republican side asked for the vote to be delayed, and 11 Republicans signed a letter to Schumer saying they would support moving forward with a yes vote on Monday, if some details about the package are ready.
Schumer said the senators are in the fourth week of talks after reaching an agreement with the White House on a comprehensive framework for infrastructure spending. He said Wednesday’s vote did not mean a deadline to work out every detail.
debate before text
“My colleagues are well aware that we often agree to move forward with debate on issues before we even have the text,” Schumer said. “We’ve done it twice already this year.”
McConnell called the vote a “stunt” that would fail, but insisted that senators were “still negotiating in good faith throughout the aisle.”
“Around here, we usually write bills before we vote on them,” he said.
A core group of Republicans are interested in pursuing a more modest package of traditional highway and public works projects, about $600 billion in new funding, and say they have yet to negotiate with their Democratic allies and the White House. Need time
Senator Todd Young was among Republicans who signed the letter calling for the delay, saying he was “cautiously optimistic” that they could reach a bipartisan deal.
Senators from the bipartisan group emerged excited from another late-night negotiating session with Biden aides at the Capitol on Tuesday, saying a deal was within reach and a failed vote on Wednesday would not be the end of the road.
In fact, Republican Senator Bill Cassidy said Wednesday’s test could be useful in helping to “upgrade and speed up” the vote process.
“We are very close,” said Democratic Senator John Tester.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Biden has been in touch with Democrats and Republicans for several days and will continue to have access until he has both on his desk to sign into law.
While Biden has proposed to pay for his proposals with tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans who earn more than $400,000 a year, the bipartisan group is trying to figure out a compromise way to pay for his package. Working hours, for which ideas have been dashed. Promote gas tax drivers to pay at the pump or strengthen the Internal Revenue Service to go after tax scofflaws.
Instead, senators in the bipartisan group are considering rolling back a Trump-era rule on pharmaceutical exemptions, which could bring in nearly $170 billion to be used for infrastructure. They’re still bargaining on public transportation funding.
Ten Republicans in an equally divided Senate would be required to join all 50 Democrats to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance the bill before a filibuster for formal consideration. Schumer may later set up another vote to move forward on the bill.
Many Republicans are wary of going ahead with the first, relatively thin package, fearing it will pave the way for a broader $3.5 trillion effort Democrats are preparing to pass on their own under special budget rules for which Only 51 votes are required. Vice President Kamala Harris may break a tie.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working to keep restless liberal Democrats in her chamber, as rank-and-file lawmakers grow impatient with the sluggish Senate pace.
Congress Progressive Caucus president Pramila Jayapal told reporters on Tuesday, “It is a waste of time, I want to do this work.”
Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, dismissed the Senate’s bipartisan effort as inadequate. He wants more robust spending on the transportation elements and said, “We really want the opportunity to negotiate.”
Democrats expect to show progress on that bill before lawmakers leave Washington for their recess in August.