Schumer urges GOP to advance infrastructure debate

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer84 mayors call for immigration to be included in reconciliation Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday urged Republicans to support moving forward on a bipartisan infrastructure deal as GOP senators appear poised to block the start of debate.

The Senate will vote Wednesday on advancing a shell bill, paving the way for debate on the bipartisan framework. With bipartisan negotiators still working to finalize their agreement, Schumer would swap in the text once it’s finalized if he overcomes Wednesday’s hurdle. 

Schumer defended the strategy, saying he wasn’t trying to “jam” the bipartisan group after Republicans have accused him of trying to pressure, and potentially undercut, their negotiations.

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“It’s not a cynical ploy. It is not a fish-or-cut-bait moment. It’s not an attempt to jam anyone. It’s only a signal that the Senate is ready to get the process started,” Schumer said.

But Schumer is on track to fall short of the 60 votes need, including the support of at least 10 GOP senators, during Wednesday’s vote. 

Several Republicans have warned that they won’t vote to start debate without the bipartisan deal finalized. Republicans are also keeping a close eye on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, amid skepticism that the bipartisan group can fully pay for its plan.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden 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."

The bipartisan group announced late last month that they had reached a framework for a $1.2 trillion bill over eight years. But they are still trying to figure out how to pay for the deal and confirmed on Monday that they had dropped out new IRS funding that was supposed to generate up to $100 billion in revenue.

Some progressives have grown antsy as they’ve waited for the bipartisan group to finalize its deal, and Schumer noted on Tuesday that they’ve “waited a month.”

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“This week’s vote is an honest attempt to get something done, to get the ball rolling on the Senate floor after a month after the agreement was reached by the bipartisan group and the White House,” Schumer said. 

“If Republican senators refuse to start debate, they would be denying the Senate an opportunity to consider the bipartisan amendment,” he added. 

Schumer has vowed that he will hold a vote on the bipartisan bill and a budget resolution, which tees up a $3.5 trillion Democratic-only bill, before the Senate leaves for the August recess.