Politics

Senate nears pivotal vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal that’s still unwritten


Schumer’s timetable comes as the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure negotiators are unlikely to meet their own self-imposed Thursday deadline to resolve outstanding issues among members, according to two sources familiar with the talks.

While working groups within the cross-aisle group of 22 senators will convene again Thursday, members still need to resolve key disagreements over how to pay for the $1.2 trillion physical infrastructure deal that Biden supports. The bipartisan group met Tuesday evening and made progress, but a host of questions about spending priorities also remain unanswered.

Members of the group are racing to turn the bipartisan framework they announced last month into legislative text, and Schumer’s deadline will only add pressure to wrap up the discussions.

Schumer will take the first steps toward moving the bipartisan physical infrastructure proposal Monday, using a House bill as a legislative vehicle that would later be amended to reflect the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure deal. Even if a deal is clinched and the Senate votes to move ahead on the bill next week, it will likely take days or even weeks to finish its work on the bipartisan legislation because of intense desire to vote on amendments to a bill likely to win Biden’s signature.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has vowed that the House will not move forward on the bipartisan infrastructure package until the Senate passes a budget setting up the $3.5 trillion social spending package. Senior Democrats do not expect that calculation to change based on the Senate’s latest moves.

And with Democrats just starting to hash out the details of that party-line spending package, it could be weeks, if not months, before the House takes up the bipartisan bill.

Both the physical infrastructure and social spending bills are top priorities for Biden, who attended a Senate Democratic caucus lunch Wednesday.

But it’s not clear yet whether the bipartisan infrastructure proposal can win the 10 GOP votes it would need to overcome a filibuster. Several Republicans have expressed concerns about its financing and are waiting for an official score from the Congressional Budget Office once the bill’s text is completed.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has withheld judgment so far on the bipartisan plan, encouraging his members to view it as a separate effort from Democrats’ $3.5 trillion bill.

Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.


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