Schumer forces procedural vote on compromise infrastructure plan, jeopardizing bipartisan bill

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer forces a procedural vote on the yet-to-be-completed bipartisan infrastructure bill Wednesday afternoon, potentially risking a setback in negotiations if Republicans respond to their threats to vote against a bill ‘that does not yet exist’.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a difficult vote for almost every Republican to decide that we’re not going to vote to pass a bill that doesn’t exist yet,” Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Tuesday. “This is not a very high standard to set.”

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Even the most moderate Senate Republicans are concerned about Schumer’s deadline on Wednesday, indicating that the two-pronged infrastructure vehicle is unlikely to get the 60 votes — meaning at least 10 Republican votes — to move on to debate.

Blunt’s broad side against the timeline set by Schumer, DN.Y., followed comments from Sen. this week. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who said she hoped Schumer would “delay the vote until next week.” sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., also said that “unless Schumer doesn’t want this to happen, you need a little more time to get it right.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., praises his Democratic Caucus at a news conference just after the Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, March 6, 2021. Schumer is forcing a controversial filibuster to debate the bipartisan infrastructure bill Wednesday, despite the bill's text not yet being written.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., praises his Democratic Caucus at a news conference just after the Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, March 6, 2021. Schumer is forcing a controversial filibuster to debate the bipartisan infrastructure bill Wednesday, despite the bill’s text not yet being written. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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“A cynic would say that,” Cassidy added Monday when asked if Schumer is trying to stop the bipartisan effort so Democrats can move forward with their massive $3.5 trillion spending plan through reconciliation. “I hope the cynic is wrong.”

Even if the vote were to pass, the Senate would still have to go through multiple steps to get to the final passage, including a cloture vote to end the debate, meaning Republicans would still be able to vote on the final product. filibustering. That’s why Schumer insists he’s forcing the vote now to urge moderate senators negotiating the legislation to act more quickly.

“It’s not a definitive deadline for a bill. It’s not a cynical trick,” Schumer said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “It’s not a fish-or-cut-bait moment. It’s not an attempt to disturb anyone. It’s just a signal that the Senate is ready to get the process underway — something the Senate has routinely done on other occasions.” bipartisan bills this year.”

And some moderates involved in the negotiations note that if the vote fails, the bill could be voted on again when the text is ready.

“I hope they will continue,” added D-Va Senator Tim Kaine. on the state of negotiations if the vote on Wednesday fails. “

“Of course” negotiations must continue if the infrastructure vote fails, R-Utah Senator Mitt Romney also said. Cassidy also said he thinks negotiations will continue even if the cloture vote fails.

There is also hope among concerned senators that an agreement could be reached sometime Wednesday, not only on the framework of a bill, but also on the details – including fees and policy details. That doesn’t mean there will be a bill that Republicans can vote for. But it would represent significant progress in the negotiations, which could allow another vote in the coming days to succeed.

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“I do believe it will happen tomorrow because we’re so close,” Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Tuesday night. “If this works out, we should be, we should be done with this thing before noon.”

The bipartisan infrastructure framework includes hard infrastructure projects that Republicans have said can support, such as roads, bridges, public transportation, water and broadband. Those provisions are essentially cut from the rest of the agenda of the Democrats, who want Schumer and the Senate Democrats to advance separately through budget alignment, allowing them to bypass the 60-vote filibuster and therefore pass legislation without any GOP votes. .

“There isn’t a single Republican in the House or in the Senate who will pay or vote for this reckless tax and spending bill. Not one,” John Barrasso, R-Wyo, chairman of the Senate GOP conference, said on Tuesday of the reconciliation of the Democrats. Bill. “To get this bill passed, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will have to make sure every Democrat stays on the shelf.”

Some liberal Democrats, meanwhile, want to abandon the bipartisan vote bickering in the Senate over infrastructure and move on with the reconciliation effort. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said earlier this week that “the whole thing falling apart is probably for the best,” according to Politics.

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The main procedural vote on the bipartisan bill is scheduled for shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. And what Schumer does if the vote fails, Blunt said Tuesday, could reflect how serious he is about getting the Senate to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“I don’t know whether this is an attempt to stop the bipartisan bill effort or to speed it up. If it is an attempt to do anything other than destroy the bipartisan effort, the majority leader can easily accept a vote that is not to the bill and be willing to bring it up at some point in the future,” Blunt said.

“All he has to do is change his voice to the ruling side and be willing to bring that up at a later date,” Blunt added, referring to a procedural ploy Schumer could use to open up his options. to recall the account for a new vote.

Caroline McKee, Chad Pergram, Megan Henney and Jason Donner of Fox News contributed to this report.

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