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Republicans in Senate ready to block infrastructure bill vote on Wednesday, but negotiations continue will

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But lawmakers said that even with the expected failure of Wednesday’s vote, talks would continue to intensify in the coming days with the aim of trying again early next week to move the $1.2 trillion measure forward.

Two Leading Republicans – Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman – said they would oppose the procedural vote on Wednesday and asked for more time to negotiate the bill.

“I think everyone is there,” Romney said.

“It won’t happen tonight,” Portman added on Tuesday.

The effort is part of the larger effort to advance the White House’s sweeping economic agenda, which also sees Democrats laying the groundwork to advance a $3.5 trillion package to expand the social safety net. . Democrats have suggested that some elements of this two-pronged plan could be rolled into the bigger package if they can’t advance the narrower measure. But tacking on could deter moderate Democrats already wary of the dazzling price tag.

Republican senators told Senate Leader Chuck Schumer in a letter Tuesday to postpone the vote until they reach a bipartisan agreement and write the bill. A Senate GOP source with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN that all 50 Republicans were likely to vote no on Wednesday, but expected all issues to be resolved by Monday and at least 10 Republican senators to advance the legislation.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, staged a test vote to open debate on the legislation, arguing that the vote would simply set the stage for the bill to be discussed once negotiators finalize the deal.

At a private luncheon Tuesday, Schumer suggested he would be willing to hold another procedural vote if it fails on Wednesday, multiple Democratic sources said. But while most Democrats support Schumer’s strategy, one Democrat stood out: West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

He urged Schumer to postpone the vote to Monday to allow more time for talks, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. Schumer said he and Manchin would talk, another source said.

Manchin told CNN that Schumer was “committed” to get the bill passed. Even if the vote fails, as expected, he believes Schumer will try to force another vote when talks are completed.

The majority leader has said that if the senators do not draft the bill on Thursday, he would introduce a bill consisting of relatively uncontroversial provisions so that the Senate could open a ground debate on a key priority for the Biden administration.

“I understand that both sides are working very hard to convert the bipartisan infrastructure framework into final legislation, and they will have more time to debate, amend and perfect the bill once the Senate votes to address this critical issue.” Schumer said. . “But they’ve been working on this bipartisan framework for over a month and it’s time to start the debate.”

In June, the White House and a bipartisan Senate group agreed to spend $579 billion in new spending on building roads, bridges, railroads and airports, along with water, power and broadband infrastructure projects.

But lawmakers have since struggled over how to pay for the massive investment, making their job even harder by agreeing to scrap a provision that would have bolstered the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to collect unpaid taxes, leading to $100 billion in government revenue. They also haven’t decided on how much transit funding to provide, according to the Senate GOP source.

Senate Republican Whip John Thune predicted that the vote will fail Wednesday and that all Republicans would stick together, accusing Schumer of making a big mistake by going ahead with it.

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“This appears to be a counterproductive move on his part,” Thune said.

The Democrats have set up two-track negotiations to broadly address the country’s infrastructure needs. The first concerns the emerging two-pronged plan. The second is a $3.5 trillion Democratic proposal that would include other priorities that many Republicans oppose, such as offering paid medical and family leave and possibly even overhauling the country’s immigration system.

But Manchin has also opposed some provisions of the Democrat-only bill.

Manchin would not say Tuesday whether he agrees to go through with the $3.5 trillion budget resolution. Schumer had requested assurances that all 50 Dems would be on board by Wednesday.

However, Manchin said Schumer “never asked that at all.” He told CNN he is “absolutely” concerned about provisions that would threaten fossil fuel production, but had not yet seen a “final draft” of the bill.

CNN’s Lauren Fox contributed to this report.

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