GOP fumes over Schumer hardball strategy

Republicans are bristling over Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium Overnight Health Care: Florida becomes epicenter of COVID-19 surge | NYC to require vaccination for indoor activities | Biden rebukes GOP governors for barring mask mandates National Organization for Women calls for Cuomo resignation MORE’s (D-N.Y.) hardball strategy to try to force them to finalize a bipartisan infrastructure deal in a matter of days.

Republican negotiators and members of leadership believe Schumer is trying to jam them and warn that they won’t vote to start debate Wednesday even on a shell bill that the Democratic leader is intending to use as a vehicle for the bipartisan deal once it’s finalized.

“It’s a bad idea if the bill’s not ready. ... Our guys aren’t going to vote for a bill they haven’t seen,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell warns Schumer cutting off debate quickly could stall infrastructure deal Seven-figure ad campaign urges GOP to support infrastructure bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

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Schumer announced on the Senate floor Thursday that he will force a key test vote on Wednesday where he will need at least 60 votes to advance the shell legislation, meaning the support of 10 Republicans if every Democrat also goes along with the strategy. If Republicans agree to start debate, they could then substitute in the bipartisan text when it’s done.

“The bottom line is there’s plenty of time to get this done. It’s almost a week, and we should get it done,” Schumer said as he left the Capitol for the week, asked about the GOP pushback. 

But Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, predicted that there could be 10 Republican senators or more who would vote to advance the bipartisan bill, “but you’ve got to see what the bill looks like.”

And several of his most likely “yes” votes, the Republicans helping negotiate the bipartisan bill, were frustrated by Schumer’s strategy, which his office acknowledged was a hardball move aimed at providing the bipartisan group with a deadline to finalize their bill and prevent talks from dragging on.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Schumer: Democrats 'on track' to pass bipartisan deal, .5T budget MORE (R-Maine) characterized Schumer as trying to “jam the bill.”

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“We’re still working very hard. We’re making good progress, and he ought to respect that,” Collins said of Schumer.

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHillicon Valley: Senate report finds major cyber shortcomings in federal agencies | Gig firms seek Mass. ballot question to classify workers as contractors | Blizzard's president steps down after workplace protests Senate report finds major cybersecurity shortcomings among federal agencies The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions MORE (R-Ohio), who has helped spearhead the bipartisan negotiations, warned that his group wouldn’t be pushed into meeting the deadline. “We’re not going to rush this,” he said.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE (R-Utah), another member of the group, said that there were still several issues that need to be resolved.

“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," Romney said. “I would think it would be a dereliction of duty to vote for a bill that hasn’t been drafted yet.”

The group, which now consists of 22 members, announced late last month that they had reached a deal on a framework for a bill that would cost $1.2 trillion over eight years.

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Since then, they have been working behind the scenes to try to flesh out the legislation.

They’ve got an informal deadline to have their remaining issues resolved by the end of Thursday, something some members have suggested is more of a goal as they still try to iron out how to pay for bill’s spending.

But even if they meet that deadline, they still need to finish drafting text and get a score from the Congressional Budget Office.

“You can’t just say, 'OK, deadline,’” said Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Optimism grows that infrastructure deal will get to Biden's desk MORE (R-La.), noting there was no guarantee that they could get agency feedback in time.

Alexander Bolton contributed