Home WORLD-NEWS Infrastructure law fails on first vote; Senate to try again

Infrastructure law fails on first vote; Senate to try again


WASHINGTON: Senate Republicans on Wednesday rejected an attempt to start debate on a major infrastructure deal that a bipartisan group of senators had brokered with President Joe Biden. But supporters of both sides continued to hope for another chance in the coming days.
Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York had planned the procedural vote he described as a move to “get the ball rolling” as talks progress. But Republicans launched a filibuster, saying the bipartisan group needed more time to finalize the deal and review the details. They asked for a delay until Monday.
The party-line vote was 51-49 against the procedure, far short of the 60 “yes” votes needed to get past the Republican bloc. The Democratic leader eventually changed his vote to “no,” a procedural move that would allow him to reconsider.
The nearly $1 trillion measure over five years includes about $579 billion in new spending on roads, broadband and other public works — a first phase of Biden’s infrastructure agenda, followed by a much broader, $3.5 trillion second measure from Democrats. next month.
sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a lead negotiator, flashed a thumbs-up when he ducked for a private lunch before the vote, indicating that the senators had sent Schumer a letter asking for more time. “We will be ready by the end of this week,” he said during a CNBC interview.
Six months after Biden took office, his signature “Build Back Better” campaign promise comes at a key moment that will test the presidency and its hopes for a new era of bipartisan cooperation in Washington.
Biden, who later went to Ohio on Wednesday to promote his economic policies, calls his infrastructure agenda a “blueprint for building a U.S. economy.” He has said the Americans are overwhelming for his plan.
However, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said major spending is “the last thing American families need.”
White House officials and the bipartisan group of senators have been meeting in private every day since Sunday to finalize the deal, which would be the first phase of an eventual package of more than $4 trillion in domestic spending — not just for roads and bridges, as well as foundations of everyday life, including childcare, tax breaks for families, education, and an extension of Medicare for seniors.
Next steps are uncertain, but the bipartisan group insists it is close to a deal and expects to finalize soon. The senators were joined by a private lunch ahead of the vote by the two leaders of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group that generally supported the effort.
Republican senators called for the vote to be postponed, and 11 Republicans signed a letter to Schumer saying they would support Monday with a yes vote, once certain details about the package are ready.
Schumer said senators are in the fourth week of negotiations after agreeing a broad infrastructure spending framework with the White House. He said Wednesday’s vote was not intended as a deadline to work out every detail.
“My colleagues are well aware that we often agree to move forward with debates on issues before we have the text in our hands,” Schumer said. “We’ve already done it twice this year.”
McConnell called the vote a “stunt” that would fail, but stressed that senators were “still negotiating in good faith down the aisle”.
“Around here we usually write the bills before voting on them,” he said.
A core group of Republicans are interested in pursuing a more modest package of traditional highway and public works, about $600 billion in new funds, saying they simply need more time to negotiate with their Democratic counterparts and the White House.
Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana was among the Republicans who signed the letter asking for a reprieve, saying he was “cautiously optimistic” that they could reach a two-pronged deal.
Senators from the bipartisan group emerged on Tuesday from another overnight negotiating session with Biden aides at the Capitol, saying a deal was within reach and a failed vote Wednesday would not be the end of the road.
In fact, Republican Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said Wednesday’s test vote could be helpful in “bringing forward and speeding up” the process.
“We’re so close,” said Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana.
Biden has been in contact with both Democrats and Republicans for several days, and his outreach will continue “until he has both pieces of legislation on his desk to sign them into law,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
While Biden proposes paying for his proposals with a tax hike for corporations and wealthy Americans earning more than $400,000 a year, the bipartisan group has been working almost around the clock to find a compromise to pay for his package, running on ideas quickly. for boosting the gas tax drivers pay at the pump or fortifying the Internal Revenue Service to go after tax laws.
Instead, senators in the bipartisan group are considering rolling back a Trump-era rule on pharmaceutical rebates that could bring in some $170 billion for infrastructure. They are also still negotiating the funds for public transport.
It would have taken ten Republicans in the evenly divided Senate to join all 50 Democrats in reaching the 60-vote threshold required for the bill to pass a filibuster to be formally considered. Schumer can hold another vote to move on to the bill later.
Many Republicans are wary of going ahead with the first relatively slim package, fearing it will pave the way for the broader $3.5 trillion effort Democrats are preparing to pass on their own under special budget rules that require only 51 votes. Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has worked to keep restless liberal Democrats in line in her chamber, while ordinary lawmakers grow impatient at the Senate’s slow pace.
“Time is not wasted, I want to get this work done,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters Tuesday.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, dismissed the Senate’s bipartisan effort as inadequate. He wants more robust spending on the transportation elements, saying, “We want a chance to actually negotiate.”
Democrats hope to show progress on that bill before lawmakers leave Washington for their August recess.



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