Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set a 2:30 p.m. Wednesday procedural vote on the not-yet-completed bipartisan infrastructure package despite strong GOP pushback.
The cloture vote is expected to be defeated, with top Republicans including Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), urging the New York Democrat to delay the vote to provide more time to iron out a number of outstanding details.
“We can’t support cloture for something we haven’t accomplished yet. We haven’t come to agreement on key issues,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has also indicated that members of his conference won’t support the measure without bill text.
“I think we need to see the bill before we decide whether or not to vote for it,” he told reporters on Monday. “I think that’s pretty easily understood.”
And GOP negotiators have indicated that they will not have a bill ready ahead of the Wednesday deadline set by Schumer despite days of negotiations.
The bipartisan bill is expected to provide $579 billion in new spending, with $300 billion slated to go toward transportation and an additional $250 billion which would go toward broadband, power and water infrastructure.
But lack of consensus over pay-fors for a significant portion of the package has proved to be a significant hurdle in cinching a deal, with the group opting to discard plans to offset a significant portion of the costs by strengthening IRS enforcement.
“I think we still have work to do over the next few days,” Sen. Mitt Romeny (R-Utah) told reporters.
Schumer has defended his decision to ramp up pressure to act on the bill, arguing it’s time to put the bill in motion after months of negotiations.
“It is not a final deadline for legislative text. It is not a cynical ploy. It is not a fish-or-cut-bait moment. It is not an attempt to jam anyone. It is only a signal that the Senate is ready to get the process started – something the Senate has routinely done on other bipartisan bills this year,” he said on the floor on Tuesday.
“This week’s vote is an honest attempt to get something done. To get the ball rolling on the Senate floor. That’s why I am giving the maximum amount of flexibility to our Senate colleagues who are negotiating this bill. If the bipartisan group can finalize the text of their agreement by Thursday, I will offer it as the pending substitute amendment.”
Schumer also faces difficulties in garnering enough support within his caucus to move forward with a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that provides instructions for the reconciliation process, which would allow Democrats to potentially pass a sweeping “human infrastructure” package with just 50 votes in the Senate.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), a moderate who will play a key role in whether Schumer gets the votes needed to pass the budget, has not yet publicly indicated whether he will offer his support.
As Schumer struggles to get the votes needed on both measures, frustrations among House progressives have become increasingly more evident, with some pushing for the House to move first on a budget to provide a vehicle for reconciliation.
“If we can’t get to a cloture vote, then we should move on and let’s just do one package because we’ve given Republicans a lot of time — we’re wasting time we need to deliver this,” House Progressive Caucus Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told reporters.