The infrastructure bill fails the first vote; The Senate will try again – Times of India

WASHINGTON: Senate Republicans on Wednesday rejected an effort to start debate on a big deal on infrastructure that a bipartisan group of senators brokered with President Joe Biden. But supporters of both parties were hopeful of another chance in the coming days.
New York-based Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had anticipated the procedural vote he described as a step to “get things done” as talks progress. But Republicans filibustered, saying the bipartisan group needed more time to close the deal and consider the details. They asked for a delay until Monday.
The party line vote was 51-49 against prosecution, well short of the 60 “yes” votes needed to pass the Republican bloc. The Democratic leader switched his vote to “no” at the end, a procedural step that would allow him to move forward to reconsider.
The nearly $ 1,000 billion five-year measure includes about $ 579 billion in new spending on roads, broadband and other public works projects – a first phase of Biden’s infrastructure program, which will be followed by a second much larger $ 3.5 trillion measure from Democrats next month.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a chief negotiator, waved a thumbs-up as he rushed to a private lunch ahead of the vote, indicating that Senators had sent Schumer a letter asking for more time. “We will be ready by the end of this week,” he said in an interview with CNBC.
Six months after Biden took office, his “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 visited Ohio later Wednesday to promote his economic policies, calls his infrastructure program a “blue collar plan to rebuild a US economy.” He said Americans overwhelmingly support his plan.
However, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said big expenses were “the last thing American families need.”
White House the assistants and the bipartisan group of senators have met privately every day since Sunday to try to secure the deal, which would be the first phase of a possible national spending package of more than $ 4 trillion – not just for roads and bridges, but everyday foundations including child care, family tax breaks, education and expansion Health Insurance for seniors.
Next steps are uncertain, but the bipartisan group insists it is close to a deal and expects to complete it soon. Senators were joined for a private lunch ahead of the vote by the two leaders of the House Problem Solver Caucus, a bipartisan group generally supportive of the effort.
Senators on the Republican side have asked to delay the vote, and 11 Republicans signed a letter to Schumer saying they would support continuing a yes vote on Monday, if certain details on the package are ready.
Schumer said senators were in week four of negotiations after reaching an agreement on a broad framework for infrastructure spending with the White House. He said Wednesday’s vote was not meant to be a deadline to sort out all the details.
“My colleagues are well aware that we often agree to move discussions forward on issues before we have the text in hand,” said Schumer. “We have already done it twice this year.”
McConnell called the vote a “cutoff” that would fail, but stressed that senators “always negotiated in good faith across the aisle.”
“Around here, we usually write bills before we vote on them,” he said.
A core of Republicans are interested in pursuing a more modest package of traditional road and public works projects, around $ 600 billion in new funds, and say they just need more time to negotiate with their colleagues Democrats and the White House.
Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana was among Republicans who signed the letter asking for the deadline and said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the possibility of reaching a bipartisan agreement.
Senators from the bipartisan group emerged optimistic Tuesday from yet another late-night negotiating session with Biden aides on Capitol Hill, saying a deal was within reach and a failed vote on Wednesday would not be the end of the road.
In fact, Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said Wednesday’s test vote could be helpful in helping “move forward and speed up” the process.
“We’re so close,” Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana said.
Biden has been in contact with Democrats and Republicans for several days, and his outreach will continue “until he has the two bills on his desk to sign them,” the press secretary said on Tuesday. the White House, Jen Psaki.
As Biden offers to pay for his proposals with a tax increase on corporations and wealthy Americans who earn more than $ 400,000 a year, the bipartisan group has worked almost around the clock to find a compromise way to pay. his package, after sweeping up ideas to increase the gasoline tax that drivers pay at the pump or strengthen the Internal Revenue Service to tackle tax evaders.
Instead, senators from the bipartisan group plan to reverse a Trump-era rule on drug discounts that could bring in some $ 170 billion to be used for infrastructure. They also still haggle over funds for public transit.
Ten Republicans would have been needed in the equally divided Senate to join the 50 Democrats and meet the 60 vote threshold required to move the bill forward after obstructing a formal review. Schumer can set another vote to move on to the bill later.
Many Republicans are reluctant to move forward with the first relatively thin package, fearing it could pave the way for the broader $ 3.5 trillion effort Democrats are preparing to pass under budget rules specials that only require 51 voices. Vice President Kamala Harris can break the tie.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has struggled to keep Liberal Democrats restless in her chamber, as grassroots lawmakers grow impatient with the Senate’s slowness.
“Time is wasting, I want this job done,” Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus told reporters on Tuesday.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, dismissed the Senate’s bipartisan effort as insufficient. He wants more spending on transportation items and said, “We want an opportunity to really negotiate. ”
Democrats hope to show progress on this bill before lawmakers leave Washington for their vacation in August.

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