Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
(D-NY) announced plans to hold a key test vote on a bipartisan infrastructure
bill next Wednesday, putting negotiators under pressure to reach a final agreement on $1.1 trillion in spending on the nation's roads, bridges, and waterways.
To advance, the bill will need at least 60 votes
, including at least ten Republicans
has come to move forward, and we will and must,” Schumer said in a speech on Thursday.
The bipartisan group of negotiators was expected to release bill text this week, but they have yet to reach a final agreement, with how to pay for the proposal remaining a major sticking point among the ten Republican and ten Democratic
When the group first unveiled an outline of their proposal, 11 Republicans signed on; however, nearly half of those Republicans aren't fully committing to voting
for a package until the revenue-raisers are agreed to.
Some of the ideas, such as having the IRS better enforce tax avoidance, funding projects through public-private partnerships
, or using leftover COVID-19
relief funds, have been criticized by both sides, and negotiators have said that strengthening IRS enforcement, a Democratic priority, could be dropped from the bill.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-Ky.) has remained silent on the bipartisan agreement, as lawmakers in the negotiating group continue to work
out details, and support remains shaky until they do.
The vote on Wednesday, according to Schumer, will be on a legislative "vehicle" that can later be amended with the text of the bipartisan bill, giving negotiators more time to iron out details; however, the schedule is designed to put Republicans on record
and advance talks that have dragged on for months.
Top Republican senators, on the other hand, warned that the move might backfire.
“I don’t think they’re going to vote on a bill they haven’t seen,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters. “It’s an artificial deadline and I’m not sure why he’s doing it. I understand he wants to try and move the process forward, but it could be really counterproductive on his end if he actually wants a result.”
Senator Mitt Romney
(R-Utah), a member of the bipartisan group, added that voting for a bill that hasn't been drafted would be a "dereliction of duty."
“We will not vote on anything until we have a bill,” Romney said.
Another potential stumbling block is Democrats’ plan to pass a separate $3.5 trillion “human” infrastructure bill through the budget reconciliation
process — which can be advanced without Republican support — that will include parts of their agenda that the GOP
could not support.
Republicans objected to the proposal on Wednesday, but refused to say whether Democrats' massive spending plan for liberal priorities would prevent them from supporting the bipartisan infrastructure proposal. House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) stated last month that the lower chamber would not vote on a bipartisan bill unless it was accompanied by a budget reconciliation proposal filling in the gaps.
In addition to forcing bipartisan negotiations, Schumer said he was setting a Wednesday deadline for all 50 Senate Democrats
to agree on their $3.5 trillion budget. Key Senate moderates, such as Joe Manchin
of West Virginia
, are withholding their support for the measure until more details, such as climate
and financing provisions, are released
The massive spending proposal includes funds for housing
, nutrition, climate, health care
, and child care
, and it is expected to be funded in part by wealthy taxation and savings from prescription drug pricing reform.