An already-tenuous $1 trillion infrastructure spending package has been thrown into further disarray this week, after lawmakers filed nearly 300 amendments to the legislation, according to The Hill, which notes that in several instances "senators are holding their colleagues’ amendments hostage by objecting to voting on them unless their own priorities are also guaranteed a vote."
According to Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) - one of the chief negotiators of the bipartisan deal, complained that the process is moving "not fast enough," but that "it's probably going to be Saturday" before there's a vote on final passage.
The legislation as introduced would provide $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, $39 billion for public transit, $65 billion for broadband, and $55 billion for water infrastructure, among other provisions.
Senators had filed 281 amendments to the infrastructure package as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) offered 35 amendments, while Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, offered 16. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) had offered 23 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Lee and Blackburn are not expected to vote in favor of the final bill, but Wicker is in a group of Republicans on the fence over whether to vote to overcome a filibuster and set the legislation up for final passage. -The Hill
"I for one am going to maintain the integrity of the baseline," said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), one of 22 senators who backed the bipartisan negotiations which produced the $1 trillion infrastructure bill - adding that he would vote to defeat any amendments which would further stall the compromise.
"I’ve told a lot of my colleagues I may be in a position to have to vote against some of the amendments, not because I disagree with the policy but if it [doesn’t] fit within the negotiations that I and my staff were involved in."
After voting on Monday and Tuesday, the Senate had dealt with just seven amendments.
According to Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) - another of the 22 senators, several colleagues are attempting to gain leverage for their own amendments by holding up votes on others.
"I know that there are multiple holds coming from our side," he said, adding "I suspect there are a few on the other side as well."
"At this stage of the game, we’re doing as much defense on some poison-pill amendments as we are" pushing for amendments, he added.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Democrats not to rush the process.
"The best way to pass this infrastructure bill is to not try to file cloture today and speed the process," he said, suggesting that Senate should vote on a procedural motion to advance to a final up-or-down vote.
"This is an extremely important bipartisan bill. There’s an excellent chance it will be a bipartisan success story for the country and to try to truncate an amendment process on something of this magnitude I think is a mistake," McConnell added.