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Senate Republicans block initial debate on bipartisan infrastructure framework as negotiations over bill continue
Should the bipartisan group of senators keep working on their infrastructure package?
By Eric Revell, Countable News
What’s the story?
- The Senate on Wednesday failed to advance a motion that would’ve started the initial debate on the bipartisan infrastructure framework, as Republicans balked at starting the process while negotiations over outstanding issues.
- The vote initially failed 50-50 along party-lines ― well short of the 60 needed for debate to begin ― but closed at 49-51 after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) changed his vote from “yea” to “nay” so that he can bring the motion up for another vote at a later date. Senate rules require that the leader is on the prevailing side to reconsider a failed vote.
- As of Wednesday, there is no legislative text for the underlying package as a number of finance-related issues remain unresolved, including the ratio of new funding for highway projects relative to public transit projects and which unspent COVID relief funding should be reallocated to offset the spending.
- While the failed vote stymies the bipartisan package for the immediate future, it doesn’t foreclose the potential for the bill to advance as early as next week. Indeed, last year’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was blocked on a similar vote by Democrats (then in the minority) on two occasions before it eventually passed the Senate on a 99-0 vote on its way to becoming law.
- Twenty-two senators in the bipartisan working group ― including the 10 Republican senators needed to reach the 60 vote threshold to advance the debate if all 50 Democrats are in favor ― released a statement that read:
“We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement. 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. We appreciate our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the administration, working with us to get this done for the American people.”
- Senators within the bipartisan working group have said they hope to be ready to vote as early as Monday to start the initial debate if they can finalize a deal, but it’s unclear how quickly Schumer is prepared to allow them floor time for the bipartisan bill’s eventual consideration.
- Democrats haven’t yet finalized their budget resolution with reconciliation instructions ― which will mark the beginning of the other track of the ongoing infrastructure debate ― but if it’s ready by early next week it could contend with a finalized bipartisan framework for floor time.
(Photo Credit: Capitol: ttarasiuk via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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