Senate Republicans are set to block Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s bid to vote to proceed on a bipartisan infrastructure plan that GOP members negotiated with Democrats, Bloomberg News reports.
Schumer decided to force a vote on a procedural motion to begin debate on the bipartisan plan, which would provide about $579 billion in new infrastructure funding and repurpose hundreds of billions more from existing programs.
“It is not a cynical ploy. It is not a fish-or-cut-bait moment. It is not an attempt to jam anyone,” Schumer said Tuesday. “It’s only a signal that the Senate is ready to get the process started — something the Senate has routinely done on other bipartisan bills this year.”
Schumer said the vote would be to proceed on a framework and then the Senate would add language negotiated by the bipartisan group by Thursday. If the group does not reach an agreement by Thursday, he said, Schumer would insert language from several smaller bills that have already been approved by Senate committees.
GOP to block vote:
“Today we are not going to be able to support moving forward,” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, one of the Republican negotiators, told CNBC on Wednesday. “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.”
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, another Republican member of the group, said that at least 10 Republicans have committed to voting to proceed by Monday.
Democrats in the group have been optimistic that they will soon reach a deal.
“I’m incredibly optimistic,” said Montana Sen. Jon Tester. “There’s just not much left to do.”
“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,” said Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.
Negotiations focus on funding:
The negotiations have stalled over how the Senate would pay for the bill and how much to spend on public transit and some other measures.
The group agreed to drop a measure to ramp up IRS enforcement to raise tens of billions to pay for some of the plan.
Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy said he “hopes” to reach a deal by the end of the week.
“The Republicans will probably all vote no to a person, but obviously many of us are planning to vote yes on final passage,” Cassidy said, adding that the group is aiming for a deal by Monday.