Schumer sets up Wednesday infrastructure showdown

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol Democrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan MORE (D-N.Y.) moved on Monday to tee up a key test vote for a bipartisan infrastructure bill despite warnings from Republicans that they'll block the upper chamber from moving forward.

Schumer's maneuvering sets up the test vote for Wednesday. He'll need 60 votes, including the support of at least 10 Republicans, in order to advance a shell bill, into which senators would swap the text of the bipartisan deal once it is finished.

"That vote on cloture will take place on Wednesday," Schumer said from the Senate floor. "What we're talking about this week is a vote on whether or not to proceed to debate."

ADVERTISEMENT

The Wednesday vote would be the first step toward taking up and debating the bipartisan infrastructure package. Schumer on Monday night stressed that senators were just agreeing to start debate if they vote "yes" on Wednesday and that it was not a hard deadline for the bipartisan group to wrap up its work.

"It is not a deadline to determine every final detail of the bill," he said, adding that the five core Democratic negotiators — Sens. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaWhy Democrats opposing Biden's tax plan have it wrong House Democrats set 'goal' to vote on infrastructure, social spending package next week The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (Ariz.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerPanic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda Democrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal Schumer announces Senate-House deal on tax 'framework' for .5T package MORE (Va.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinCongress needs to gird the country for climate crisis Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Poll from liberal group shows more voters in key states back .5T bill MORE (W.Va.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThree dead, dozens injured after Amtrak train derailed in Montana The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (Mont.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenKoch-backed group launches 7-figure ad blitz opposing .5T bill Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken We have a plan that prioritizes Afghanistan's women — we're just not using it MORE (N.H.) — are on board with his strategy.

"What Chuck's done is no different than what we do on every bill," Tester told reporters on Monday.

If he is able to get over Wednesday's initial hurdle, Schumer is planning to make the bipartisan group's plan the first amendment to the shell bill if their agreement is finalized on Thursday. If the bipartisan group isn't ready, he said he would instead swap in smaller pieces, including committee-approved highway and water infrastructure bills, as the first amendment.

But Republicans have said that without a deal on the bipartisan package, Schumer will fall short of being able to get the 60 votes needed to advance the shell bill.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, warned that without the bipartisan group being finished by Wednesday, Schumer "is not going to get 60. Let's put it that way."

ADVERTISEMENT

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (R-Ky.) warned on Monday that Republicans "need to see the bill" before the vote on whether to start debate.

"I think that’s pretty easily understood," he added.

The bipartisan group is still trying to finalize its legislation after announcing with President BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE at the White House late last month that it had a deal on a framework for $1.2 trillion in spending over eight years. Several GOP members have warned Schumer against moving forward with the Wednesday vote because they won't be ready with their bill by then.

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMajor US port target of attempted cyber attack Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Officials urge Congress to consider fining companies that fail to report cyber incidents MORE (R-Ohio), who has led the talks with Democrats, called forcing a vote without legislation finalized "absurd." Portman estimated that they had roughly a dozen things left to be figured out.

"People need to know what's in it. That's only fair, right," Portman said.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff Graham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet Trump, allies launch onslaught as midterms kick into gear MORE (R-Alaska) declined to say how she would vote on Wednesday but urged Schumer to give the group space to work out the remaining hurdles.

"I don't want us to lose the momentum and just the energy that we've built. ... If what we're trying to do is to succeed, and I would like to think that Sen. Schumer would actually like this to succeed, then he will allow us that time to make sure that the language is right, that people have an opportunity to actually look at what they might be moving on," Murkowski said.

The bipartisan group missed its self-imposed deadline to have all its issues worked out by Thursday, as how to pay for its bill remained a sticking point. After conservatives pushed back over roughly $40 billion in funding for the IRS, which would have generated up to $100 billion in revenue, negotiators agreed to drop that from their bill.

They are expected to talk Monday night on Zoom, but they are still trying to work out what to replace it with. Portman warned they would not be able to meet Schumer's Wednesday deadline. Even after they've finalized the text, they will need to get an official analysis from the Congressional Budget Office.

Democrats are under fierce pressure to meet their pledge to advance Biden's sweeping infrastructure plan before they leave for the August recess.

Schumer has vowed that he will hold a vote on both the bipartisan infrastructure deal and a budget resolution that will tee up a second, $3.5 trillion party-line spending package before the Senate leaves town.

Senators are scheduled to start a weeks-long summer break on Aug. 9, but Schumer has warned that he could hold them in Washington, D.C., longer to finish up their work.

"They have been working on a bipartisan framework for more than a month already, and it's time to begin the debate," he said.

"We must make significant progress on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget resolution by the end of the work period. There is no reason we can't get the ball rolling this week on both elements of the Senate's infrastructure agenda," he added.

Updated at 8:17 p.m.