Senate Republicans said they do not plan to vote to advance a $1 trillion infrastructure package on Wednesday unless they see the text of the legislation and the two parties can agree on how to pay for the plan. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., returns following a weekly Republican policy lunch, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Republicans signal trouble ahead of Wednesday test vote on infrastructure
Susan Ferrechio July 19, 07:39 PM July 19, 07:39 PM
Senate Republicans said they do not plan to vote to advance a $1 trillion infrastructure package on Wednesday unless they see the text of the legislation and the two parties can agree on how to pay for the plan.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer scheduled a key test vote for Wednesday on the infrastructure package authored by a group of bipartisan lawmakers and endorsed by President Joe Biden.
The measure would dedicate funding to traditional infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and waterways. Democrats intend for the bill to be followed by a second, much larger measure later this year to fund social spending programs.
But last week, Republicans immediately warned that Schumer scheduled the vote too quickly and while negotiations were still happening to resolve differences in the bill that may cost critical support. By Monday afternoon, problems remained.
“We need to see the bill before voting to go to it,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, on Monday.
Over the weekend, Republicans stripped a provision in the bill that would have enhanced IRS enforcement to bring in missing tax revenue to pay for infrastructure projects.
The IRS provision was removed after pushback from GOP lawmakers and outside groups, but it has left lawmakers looking for other ways to pay for the bill.
“Right now, I’d like to have language and pay-fors,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, when asked about Wednesday’s vote.
Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican and one of the negotiators, called Schumer’s Wednesday deadline “arbitrary” and said lawmakers must keep working to finalize a deal that can win bipartisan support.
Portman told reporters in the Capitol Monday lawmakers were working on roughly a dozen different issues and having Zoom calls with negotiators and the Biden administration.
“We haven’t come to an agreement on key issues, nor has the White House,” he said.
Democratic leaders are framing the infrastructure bill as the first step in passing an overall $4.1 trillion in new spending. Schumer told Democrats to finalize a plan to pass a budget framework unilaterally that calls for $3.5 trillion in social programs.
But liberal groups and, more critically, liberal House Democrats are already declaring the bill as insufficient to address the needs of the nation.
Members of the House Progressive Caucus will hold a press conference with liberal groups Tuesday calling on Democrats “to push for Congress to ‘Go Bigger to Meet the Need’ on climate, jobs, and justice.”
House Democrats control the majority by just a handful of votes and will need nearly every lawmaker in their party to pass the $3.5 trillion measure.
Progressives said the House “is developing its own approach, with an opportunity to go bigger to ensure the level of investment meets the need.”
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