Schumer defends tight infrastructure deadline as GOP threatens to tank key vote

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Schumer defends tight infrastructure deadline as GOP threatens to tank key vote

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) (D-NY) speaks to the media during a weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on May 18, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday rejected calls by Republicans to slow down the process of his chamber implementing a bipartisan infrastructure plan.

Instead, the New York Democrat put more pressure on the senators to get a final deal on the bill, saying he has no plans to postpone the vote or vote on Wednesday to continue the debate on the plan.

Schumer argued that Wednesday’s procedural vote on presenting a bill on home transportation, which will be part of the ultimate infrastructure package, is not a final deadline for completing the tougher laws, but merely a starting point for the formal debate on what the bill will contain should.

“It’s not a cynical trick. It’s not a fish-or-cut-bait moment. It’s not an attempt to block someone,” Schumer said Tuesday morning in the Senate.

“It’s just a signal that the Senate is ready to start the process – something the Senate has routinely done on other bipartisan bills this year,” the majority leader said.

Once the Shell bill is passed, Schumer said he would insert the bipartisan infrastructure language on Thursday if an agreement was reached by then.

If no agreement is reached by Thursday, but the Shell bill passes the 60-vote threshold, Schumer said he will insert a language from several smaller bills that have already been approved by either the Senate committees or the entire Senate: A water bill, a motorway bill, a rail and transit bill and an energy bill.

Schumer submitted the original motion to go ahead with the bill on Monday evening, he said, with the intention of swapping the text of the Senate’s infrastructure bill as soon as it is drafted.

Wednesday’s vote will just start a debate that Schumer said could take several weeks – “Nothing more, nothing less.”

“We waited a month. It’s time to move forward, ”he said, referring to President Joe Biden’s June 24 announcement at the White House that the group of nearly two dozen bipartisan senators had reached an agreement.

Schumer needs at least 10 Republican votes to pass the motion on Wednesday. If that vote fails, the Republicans would “deny the Senate the opportunity to examine the bipartisan amendment,” said Schumer.

“To get the bill ready, we’ll have to agree to start,” he said.

But even as Schumer downplayed the importance of Wednesday’s vote, Republican opposition to moving the bill has hardened in recent days.

As soon as news of Schumer’s plan broke, the Republicans negotiating the infrastructure package shouted badly and called for more time to finalize the network of funding sources to pay for the proposed $ 579 billion in new infrastructure investments.

“We cannot support Cloture for something we have not yet achieved,” said Ohio Republican negotiator Rob Portman on Monday evening. “It is absurd to move forward with a vote on something that has not yet been formulated.”

“There’s no point in trying to rush a cloture vote,” Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

“If the majority leader simply agreed to postpone the vote until very early next week and make it the first vote on Monday, then I think we could have a language to show our colleagues and be able to move forward “said Collins.

The crux of the bill’s pay-fors came when a non-partisan political organization warned that the budget resolution proposal, which Democrats hope they can pass the Senate on a party vote, could actually cost significantly more than the advertised $ 3.5 trillion.

The charitable federal budget committee said Monday, citing a leaflet accompanying the budget proposal, that actual costs could exceed $ 5 trillion in a decade.

Some Republicans accuse Schumer of forcing a vote Wednesday that he knows will fail to hold as evidence that Republicans will only stall the infrastructure bill and never agree to pass it.

Schumer “wants this vote to fail because he really wants to go the partisan path,” said Texas Senator John Cornyn on Tuesday in the Senate.

Cornyn predicted that once the infrastructure bill failed, the Democrats would use this as an opening to pass a laundry list of progressive items on a draft budget via a straight party vote.

Meanwhile, some Democrats are also criticizing the infrastructure talks.

That “falling apart is probably for the best,” MP Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Said in a private call to fellow Democrats on Monday, three sources of the call told Politico.

A DeFazio spokesman did not immediately comment on the report.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.