Bipartisan group says it’s still on track after setback on Senate floor

Bonnie Cash

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday afternoon issued a joint statement declaring they’re still on track for completing work on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, even after the Senate voted earlier in the day to reject a motion to begin the infrastructure debate.

“We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement. We will continue working hard to ensure we get this critical legislation right — and are optimistic that we will finalize, and be prepared to advance, this historic bipartisan proposal to strengthen America’s infrastructure and create good-paying jobs in the coming days,” the group said.

The statement was signed by 10 Republicans, 11 Democrats and one independent who caucuses with Democrats.

“We appreciate our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the administration, working with us to get this done for the American people,” they wrote.

The senators issued the statement minutes after the Senate voted 49-51 against a motion to proceed to a shell House bill, which would have allowed the chamber to begin the infrastructure debate. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) changed his vote to a “no” to give himself flexibility to bring the motion back up for a vote.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a leading member of the bipartisan group, said he expects Schumer to schedule another procedural vote early next week — likely Monday — to begin the infrastructure debate.

That, however, is contingent on the group finalizing its agreement by Monday.

Eleven Republicans — including the 10 who issued the joint statement Wednesday afternoon — have sent a letter to Schumer pledging they will vote to proceed to the infrastructure debate next week when they have a better chance of what their bipartisan compromise will look like.

That means Schumer would get the 60 votes he needs to proceed to infrastructure legislation, something he failed to do Wednesday afternoon. 

Members of the bipartisan group say they’ll have more analysis from the Congressional Budget Office on whether their legislation will add significantly to the federal deficit. They also hope to have substantial portions of their agreement drafted into legislative text. 

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) signed the joint Republican letter to Schumer pledging action to begin the infrastructure debate next week but he didn’t sign the bipartisan joint statement attesting to the progress of the talks.

Cramer explained to The Hill that he didn’t have firsthand knowledge about how much progress the talks, which are being led by a group of 10 bipartisan senators, are really making.  

The Republican signatories on the joint statement were Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), and Todd Young (Ind.).

The Democrats were Sens. Chris Coons (Del.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), John Hickenlooper (Colo.), Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Manchin, Jacky Rosen (Nev.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Mark Warner (Va.).

Sen. Angus King (Maine), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, also signed it. 

Tags Angus King Bill Cassidy budget reconciliation Charles Schumer Chris Coons Dick Durbin Filibuster Infrastructure Jacky Rosen Jeanne Shaheen Joe Manchin John Hickenlooper Jon Tester Kevin Cramer Kyrsten Sinema Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Maggie Hassan Mark Kelly Mark Warner Mike Rounds Mitt Romney Richard Burr Rob Portman Susan Collins Thom Tillis Todd Young
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