Senate Republicans Vote To Block Opening Debate On $1.2 Trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jul 21, 2021 - 07:57 PM

Update (1558ET): Senate Republicans have voted to block opening debate on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal favored by the Biden administration, according to Reuters.

The Republicans said the deal is not ready for floor action because 'it's not finished.'

The 49-51 vote failed to reach the 60-votes required to move forward.

More via Axios:

  • Time is running out for the group, made up of five Democratic and five Republican senators, if they want to meet their self-imposed deadline of passing it before August recess.
  • However, many Republicans — including those involved in the bipartisan talks — wouldn't vote for the measure given the bill has yet to be written. Many lawmakers are also waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the cost, which will take days to complete one the text is finalized.
  • Schumer, recognizing their concerns, tried to placate Republicans by repeatedly insisting that the vote was solely on "the vehicle" for the package — meant to allow the Senate to begin debating parts of the proposal that both parties have already agreed to.
  • That was enough to get all 50 Democrats — including key moderates like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) — on board. But it wasn't enough to sway most GOP members in favor.
  • Schumer voted "No" in order to bring the bill back up again.
  • 11 Republican senators had sent a letter to Schumer prior to Wednesday's vote asking him to delay it until Monday, when they believe they'll be ready to advance the package. Schumer went ahead with the vote anyway.

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Senate Republicans are about to thwart Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) bid to begin Senate debate on Wednesday on Joe Biden's still-unfinished infrastructure plan, while signaling that they'll instead be ready to move forward next week, according to Bloomberg.

Schumer’s decision to force an early test vote Wednesday afternoon spurred a faster pace in protracted talks for a $579 billion infrastructure plan, but not the completed deal GOP senators are demanding as a prerequisite to begin debate.

"Today we are not going to be able to support moving forward," said lead GOP negotiator Rob Portman (OH) in a Wednesday morning statement to CNBC. "We will be able to on Monday and I hope that is what the majority leader decides to do, put this vote off until Monday."

Schumer, meanwhile, says the bipartisan group "is close to finishing their product" on infrastructure.

The procedural bill is expected to come around 2:30 pm et today.

On Wednesday morning, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said that the president was "extremely supportive" of Schumer's attempt to kick off Senate debate, and urged Senators to back the procedural vote to move forward.

"So there is still plenty of opportunity for people to make amendments and to make sure the final details of the bill are lined up with the agreement the president struck with a group of Republicans and Democrats," Bedingfield told CNN.

The motion to move forward is unlikely to receive the 60 votes needed - meaning talks among a bipartisan group of 22 senators will likely continue for at least a few more days unless Schumer uses a procedural maneuver to try again.

On Tuesday night, Montana Democrat Jon Tester said "I really believe tomorrow it will be done. We are so close."

Fellow Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia said he was confident that a final deal would be struck, saying "We know all the issues, we’re digging deep on things like pay-fors, and we wouldn’t be continuing this effort if we didn’t think we were going to get there."