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Senate GOP threatens to block vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal if negotiations are not concluded

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“We need to see the bill before we vote to go for it,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I think it’s pretty easy to understand.”

The Republican whip, John Thune of South Dakota, told reporters Monday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is making a big mistake if he goes ahead with a key test vote on the plan.

“I can not say we want all Republicans, but he does not get 60,” Thune warned.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, set up a test vote on Wednesday on the legislation, which does not yet exist, to encourage Republican and Democratic negotiators to write it. Schumer said Monday that if senators do not draft it by Thursday, he will offer a bill consisting of relatively non-controversial provisions so the Senate can start the debate on a key priority for the Biden administration.

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

In June, the White House and a group of two Senate parties agreed on a $ 579 billion budget. To build roads, bridges, railways and airports together with water, power and broadband infrastructure projects.

But lawmakers have since struggled to figure out how to pay for the massive investment, making their task even harder by agreeing to scrap a provision that would have strengthened the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to collect unpaid taxes, which would have raised up to $ 100 billion. in government revenue. The bipartisan infrastructure talks continue Monday night over Zoom, several sources tell CNN.

Republicans have criticized Schumer for preparing the procedural vote on Wednesday, claiming he is trying to undermine the negotiations. They are particularly reluctant to vote to advance a shell of a bill before the Congressional Budget Office decides how much it will add to U.S. debt.

A GOP source with knowledge of the talks said Republican senators have appealed directly to the White House to urge Schumer to back his plans as they have publicly made it clear they need more time.

“We are being pressured to be ready to vote,” said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. “I do not want us to lose momentum and just the energy we have built.”

“If we have not accepted a bill, I have a hard time understanding why we will move on to a bill,” added GOP Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.

Dealers are even divided on how far apart they are. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin expressed confidence Monday that they could quickly address their concerns about how to pay the bill before the vote.

“We should have done it tonight,” Manchin said.

But Senator Rob Portman, the leading Republican negotiator in the negotiations, said there are still over a dozen issues to work on, arguing that the group has not had enough time to negotiate a deal. He suggested that the Senate should not vote on it until they do.

Portman said he does not know how much more time the group needs, but said they are “at a sprint speed given the importance of this.” He said he was on Zoom calls with Democrats and Republicans until 6 p.m. 22.15 ONE Sunday evening and started meetings at 7 A Monday with members and CBO.

“We work as hard as possible,” he said. “I can not imagine we get a cloture vote on something that has not yet been done. I mean, what are we going to have the cloture vote on?”

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said he would oppose the vote Wednesday, claiming that there would not be ten Republicans who would join all 50 Democrats in the vote to start a word debate on the bill unless one agreement is secured.

“I do not think they will get there,” Cornyn said. “Even the bipartisan dealers say they are not ready and this is really an arbitrary deadline.”

Schumer has removed Republicans’ concerns. He said Thursday, “there’s no reason we can ‘t start voting next Wednesday, and that’s what we need to do.

The Democratic senator in Montana, Jon Tester, agreed that the vote should take place on Wednesday.

“Yeah, I think it’s putting pressure on us to get some s — done,” Tester said.

Democrats have begun two-track negotiations to broadly meet the country’s infrastructure needs. The first involves the new two-party plan. The second is a $ 3.5 trillion Democratic bill that will include other priorities that many Republicans oppose, such as offering paid vacation and family leave and potentially even reviewing the country’s immigration system.

But some Democrats have turned away from the price tag for the sole democratic bill.

Manchin declined to say Monday if he was familiar with the huge figure.

“I’m just trying to get more information tonight,” he said.

This story has been updated with further developments on Monday.

CNN’s Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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