Senate

Schumer sets up key vote on bipartisan deal

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday said the Senate will vote to open debate on the bipartisan infrastructure deal Wednesday, setting up a key test vote on the legislation.

“Today I’m announcing that I intend to file cloture on the vehicle for the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday of next week,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.

Because the bipartisan group doesn’t actually have a bill, Schumer will file cloture on a shell bill that senators will later swap the bipartisan legislation into. The bill will need 60 votes to get over Wednesday’s initial hurdle. If every Democrat votes to advance it, something that isn’t certain, that means Democrats would need at least 10 GOP votes.

“Senators will have until Wednesday of next week before the initial vote on cloture on the motion to proceed. Everyone has been having productive conversations and it’s important to keep the two-track process moving. All parties involved in the bipartisan infrastructure bill talks must now finalize their agreement so that the Senate can begin considering that legislation next week,” Schumer said. 

Wednesday is also the deadline Schumer has set for Democrats to be ready to “move forward” on a separate budget resolution that tees up $3.5 trillion in spending. The party hopes to pass its budget and the budget reconciliation package with just Democratic votes.

Schumer’s strategy, announced on the Senate floor, is a hardball strategy to try to force agreement on advancing Democrats biggest legislative priority before Congress leaves for August.

Schumer is pushing the bipartisan group to finalize their deal on a bill worth $1.2 trillion over eight years as they continue to work through final hurdles.

And because the bipartisan bill is linked to Democrats’ separate reconciliation plan — which will allow them to bypass the 60-vote filibuster on the $3.5 trillion legislation — Schumer’s decision is also aimed at forcing Democrats to coalesce behind the budget resolution, which needs all 50 Democratic senators and Vice President Harris to break a tie in order to pass.

“I am setting the same deadline next Wednesday for the entire Senate Democratic Caucus to agree to move forward on the budget resolution with reconciliation instructions. The time has come to make progress,” he said.

The bipartisan group is still working to finalize its infrastructure deal, and GOP members of the gang appeared skeptical their caucus would agree to advance even a shell bill that would allow debate to get started.

Members of the bipartisan group are hoping to untangle their remaining sticking points by the end of Thursday, but acknowledged that deadline is fluid and they would still need to finish drafting and get a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of their legislation.

“I think there’s a lot of drafting that has to be done, and there are still a number of outstanding issues that have to be resolved,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a member of the bipartisan group. “I would think it would be a dereliction of duty to vote for a bill that hasn’t been drafted yet.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) indicated that his goal was to have the bipartisan bill finished before the end of the July work period, which runs through early August. And Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) warned against enforcing arbitrary deadlines.

“You can’t just say, ‘OK, deadline.’” Cassidy said.

The Hill previously reported that the bipartisan bill could hit the floor as soon as the week of July 19 – something Schumer’s strategy lines up with.

Asked about Schumer’s timeline, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the bipartisan group and the Budget Committee, was noncommittal.

“We’ll see,” he said.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a member of the bipartisan group, said he hadn’t heard the Wednesday deadline but suggested he viewed it as more of a goal.

“That keeps everybody moving,” he said. 

That means the bipartisan bill will move before the Democratic budget resolution. Schumer and members of the Senate Budget Committee Democrats, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), announced on Tuesday night that they had reached a deal on a $3.5 trillion top-line figure.  

But Democrats still need to craft the details of their resolution, which paves the way for them to pass a second infrastructure package along party lines. Sanders said on Thursday that he did not have a timeline for when he expected to have finalized text. 

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a key centrist, said on Thursday that he would vote to take up the budget resolution but didn’t know if he would support approving it on a final vote, where they will need all 50 Democrats.

“I haven’t seen it and neither have you guys,” Tester told reporters asked about the budget resolution. 

Updated at 2:14 p.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Bill Cassidy budget reconciliation Charles Schumer Filibuster Infrastructure Joe Manchin Jon Tester Mark Warner Mike Rounds Mitt Romney Transportation
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