Although a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement with President Joe Biden last month for a broad infrastructure framework, the finer points of such a measure are still being ironed out.
Despite the absence of a written bill, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attempted to push forward to the next stage of the legislative process on Wednesday — and Republicans united to deny Democrats the 60 votes necessary for the measure to advance.
“Close to a final agreement”
Schumer switched his vote to “no” alongside Republicans in a procedural move that will allow him to bring the measure up for a vote at a later date.
Despite the impasse at this early stage, the bipartisan group responsible for the framework expressed confidence that their time had not been wasted and that negotiations would lead to further progress.
“We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement,” the group said in a joint statement. “We will continue working hard to ensure we get this critical legislation right — and are optimistic that we will finalize, and be prepared to advance, this historic bipartisan proposal to strengthen America’s infrastructure and create good-paying jobs in the coming days.”
Republicans made it abundantly clear in recent days that they were not willing to move forward on a bill that had not yet been written. Schumer ignored their demands, however, and pushed forward with the vote on Wednesday.
Calling Schumer’s procedural vote a “stunt,” Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) quipped: “Around here, we typically write the bills before we vote on them. That’s the custom.”
Additional GOP concerns
According to the Associated Press, the underlying infrastructure plan is said to tip the scales at more than $1 trillion, with approximately $579 billion set aside for projects such as roads, bridges, airports, public transit, waterways, and waters systems.
Aside from the lack of a written bill, Republicans also had concerns over the openly stated intent of Democrats to also move forward with a much broader $3.5 trillion spending bill, ramming it through as a budget resolution that would require just 51 votes to pass.
Nevertheless, the bipartisan framework is apparently still viable, as all involved said they would continue negotiating over the weekend so that another vote can be taken next week.
Schumer is sure to be under partisan pressure to move along the infrastructure plan, but it appears he got ahead of himself and rushed the process this week.
Despite the embarrassment, Schumer was able to vote against his own measure to preserve it for another day, which means this win for Senate Democrats could be short-lived.