Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked debate on a bipartisan infrastructure deal endorsed by President Biden, but lawmakers are optimistic that lingering disagreements over the scope of the package and how to pay for it can be resolved by next week.
The bill would have required 60 votes to pass and the final vote was 51 against it, 49 in favor. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pressed ahead with the vote yesterday but voted against it, a procedural step that allows him to bring up the measure again as soon as the negotiators reach a final deal.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), a lead Republican negotiator on the infrastructure deal, organized a letter of 11 Republican senators to Schumer indicating Republicans will put up the votes to get to 60 next week pending final negotiations and getting a score back on the bill’s financing from the Congressional Budget Office.
“We’re a no today because we’re not ready,” Portman told reporters. “We’re saying we do want to take up this bill as soon as we are, and we think that’ll be Monday.”
Schumer and the White House are eager to move both the infrastructure bill and a budget resolution setting up a separate $3.5 trillion social spending plan next week. That package includes massive new spending on a range of health, education and federal safety net programs endorsed by President Biden and progressive lawmakers. Republicans have opposed many of the proposals in the plan, but Democrats intend to move that legislation via the budget reconciliation process which will only require 51 votes to pass.