Senate eyeing possible weekend finish for $1T infrastructure bill
Senators are in negotiations over wrapping up a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal, with an eye at finishing it as soon as this weekend.
Senators say they are looking at holding a key vote to wind down debate on Saturday, where the bill would need 60 votes to move forward.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said a vote to end debate was “possible” on Saturday, but cautioned that it wasn’t final because senators were still haggling over up to 60 hours of time they would still need to burn through after that vote under the Senate’s rules before they could get to final passage for the bipartisan agreement.
“We don’t know what time Saturday. They’re still negotiating what to do with the two 30-hour requirements that follow the cloture votes,” Durbin said.
Durbin added that there was a “hope” that once senators overcome the first 60-vote hurdle required to close down debate, senators would agree to let them move quickly to a final vote.
In order to have an initial vote on ending debate as soon as Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) would have to tee it up on Thursday.
Schumer has not said when he will take that step but teased on Wednesday evening that after more votes Thursday on potential changes to the $1 trillion bill, “hopefully we can bring this bill to a close in the very near future.”
If the Senate took its first vote on ending debate Saturday but wasn’t able to work out a deal to speed up the remaining hurdles, final passage of the bill could be delayed until at least Monday.
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), the lead negotiator for Republicans, told reporters earlier Wednesday that there would “probably” be a vote on Saturday to start ending debate, but cautioned that it was dependent on additional amendment votes.
The Senate was in session late into Wednesday night to vote on several amendments.
The Senate is not expected to have any votes on Friday because a sizable number of senators are traveling to Wyoming to attend the funeral of the late Sen. Mike Enzi.
“There are discussions going on about how to land this bill and get on the next one,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 GOP senator.
Thune added that there were “a lot of conversations about sort of wrapping this up.”
After the Senate finishes the bipartisan infrastructure bill, lawmakers are expected to move to a budget resolution, which tees up Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan that includes some of their top priorities including expanding Medicare, combating climate change and immigration reform.
Democrats want to finish the budget resolution next week and then leave town for a summer break, before the Senate would return in mid-September.
“We’ll be on the budget resolution at some point I think in the weekend, maybe bleeding into next week,” Thune said.
He predicted that there could be more finality on the schedule on Thursday, adding that there was conversations ongoing that “might be constructive.”