Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., speaks during the Problem Solvers Caucus news conference on the infrastructure deal outside of the Capitol on Friday, July 30, 2021.
Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
Senators introduced their bipartisan infrastructure bill on Sunday after months of wrangling, setting it up for passage as soon as this week.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aims to rush the 2,702-page legislation through the chamber before a planned monthlong recess starting Aug. 9. Votes on amendments — or a decision by any senator to delay the process — could trip up the New York Democrat’s timeline.
Schumer on Monday urged all 100 senators to agree to start the amendment process, warning the “longer it takes to finish the bill, the longer we’ll be here.” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, signaled he is in no rush to move toward a final vote on the legislation.
“Our full consideration of this bill must not be choked off by any artificial timetable that our Democratic colleagues may have penciled out for political purposes,” the Kentucky Republican said Monday.
The coming days will prove pivotal for President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. Before the Senate leaves Washington, Schumer wants to pass both the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a budget measure that would allow Democrats to approve a separate $3.5 trillion spending package without a Republican vote.
“Given how bipartisan the bill is, and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments and pass this bill in a matter of days,” Schumer said Sunday night.
“Then, I will move the Senate along the second track of our infrastructure effort and take up the budget resolution,” he continued.
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Both massive bills could then take a while to get to Biden’s desk. The House is not scheduled to return to Washington until Sept. 20.
Meanwhile, the coming midterm elections could grind business in Congress to a halt next year if Democrats fail to pass the bills by the end of 2021.
While the bipartisan plan appears poised to get through the Senate, Democrats’ two-pronged plan could still get derailed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she will not take up either the infrastructure plan or budget measure until the Senate passes both of them, a strategy that has sparked criticism from Republicans.
Centrist Democrats in both chambers have concerns about the $3.5 trillion price tag attached to their party’s bill. Some progressives contend it would not go far enough.
Democrats and Republicans who back the infrastructure bill say it will boost the economy and provide a long-needed refresh to transportation and utility systems. Democrats aim to go further with their second plan to expand the social safety net and curb climate change.
The bipartisan package would include about $550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, airports, waterways, broadband, water systems and the power grid.
“Over the last four days we have worked day and night to finalize historic legislation that will invest in our nation’s hard infrastructure and create good-paying jobs for working Americans in communities across the country without raising taxes,” the 10 Republican and Democratic senators who helped to craft the infrastructure bill said in a statement Sunday.
They said they looked forward to “moving this bill through the Senate and delivering for the American people.”
To move on to their larger bill, Democrats will first have to approve a budget resolution that starts the reconciliation process. It would allow a plan to pass with only the 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate.
The party aims to expand child care and paid leave, boost public health-care subsidies, and make pre-K and higher education more accessible. It also hopes to extend tax credits for families, encourage the adoption of green energy, and make buildings and infrastructure more resilient against climate change.
While Democrats appear set to pass their budget resolution, some senators have signaled they will seek to trim the final legislation.
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