Schumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday night vowed to advance a bipartisan infrastructure plan and Democratic-only bill next month.
Schumer spoke to reporters alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after their two-hour meeting with White House officials on the path forward for infrastructure, and he stressed that he viewed moving both a smaller, bipartisan bill and a sweeping Democratic-only plan as linked.
“One can’t be done without the other. … We can’t get the bipartisan bill done unless we’re sure of getting the budget reconciliation bill done. We can’t get the budget reconciliation bill done unless we’re sure to get the bipartisan — and I think our members, across the spectrum, realize that,” Schumer told reporters.
The closed-door meeting came shortly after a bipartisan group of senators emerged from the latest of their around-the-clock, closed-door meetings and announced that they and White House negotiators had agreed to a “framework” for an infrastructure deal.
That agreement — which still needs to be signed off on by Biden, potentially as soon as Thursday, when the bipartisan group will meet with him at the White House — would cost $974 billion over five years or $1.2 trillion over eight years.
Neither Pelosi nor Schumer endorsed the bipartisan framework on Wednesday night but signaled that they were hopeful for the prospects of an agreement while wanting to see the details.
“We’re very excited about the prospect of a bipartisan agreement that takes us to whatever else we want to do,” Pelosi told reporters.
Schumer added that they wanted to let the group announce and roll out their agreement but that “we support the concepts that we have heard about.”
Democrats are essentially eyeing a dual-track process for passing infrastructure through Congress. In addition to the potential, smaller bipartisan bill, Democrats want to pass a sweeping multitrillion-dollar bill that would fully incorporate, and potentially go beyond, President Biden’s $2.3 trillion jobs plan and his $1.8 trillion families plan.
A White House readout of the meeting said that Office of Management and Budget acting Director Shalanda Young, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice discussed the “two-track approach” to passing an infrastructure package “and the importance of a budget resolution to meeting the full range of the President’s priorities.”
But figuring out how to move both has been tricky. Moderate holdouts like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) haven’t been willing to fully commit to passing a bigger bill under reconciliation while they try to negotiate their bipartisan deal. Democrats have to be able to unite all 50 of their members to unlock and ultimately pass a bill under reconciliation, a budget process that lets them avoid the 60-vote filibuster.
Meanwhile, a growing number of senators have been ready to pull the plug on the bipartisan talks and warned that they would only be open to doing a smaller, bipartisan deal if they got a guarantee that they would also move a second bill under reconciliation.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said this week that she wanted an “ironclad” guarantee and that “it may mean the order of votes.”
Schumer, speaking with reporters, stressed that he wanted to take up a bipartisan deal and advance reconciliation next month.
“Both tracks, the bipartisan track and the budget reconciliation track, are proceeding apace. And we hope to have voted on both of them … in July,” Schumer said.
He clarified that he meant the first step of reconciliation, passing the budget resolution that lays out the instructions for the Democratic-only bill, would be finished in July. Schumer has not given a hard timeline for when the Senate would be able to vote on a second, Democratic-only bill itself.
The Senate is set to leave on Thursday for a two-week recess. When they return they will be in town until early August, when they leave for a lengthy summer break. Democratic senators have increasingly assumed that while they would pass the budget resolution next month, the sweeping Democratic-only infrastructure plan would wait until the fall.
“People should understand this. There are two parts” to reconciliation, Schumer said “The first act will be finished in July.”