By Lisa Mascaro and Kevin Freking | Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans expected on Wednesday to reject an effort to begin debate on a bipartisan infrastructure deal that senators brokered with President Joe Biden, though supporters are hoping they’ll get another chance in coming days.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer scheduled a procedural vote that he described as a step to “get the ball rolling” as talks progress. But Republican senators say they want to view an analysis of the bill’s costs, how it’s paid for and a more detailed legislative text first.
The measure is projected to cost about $1 trillion over five years with about $579 billion of that above previously expected levels — a first phase of Biden’s big infrastructure agenda, to be followed by a $3.5 trillion second measure.
“We’ve told him we’re not ready, so we’re gonna vote no, but we will be ready by the end of this week. And we’ve always thought that,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a lead negotiator, during an interview on CNBC. “We still have four or five issues we’re discussing with the White House and negotiating with our Democratic colleagues.”
Senators from the Republican side are asking to delay the vote, and Portman confirmed they have sent a letter to Schumer. It says the 11 Republican signatories would support moving forward with a yes vote on Monday, if certain details about the package are ready.
Six months after Biden took office, his signature “Build Back Better” campaign promise is at a key moment that will test his hopes for a new era of bipartisan cooperation in Washington.
White House aides and the bipartisan group of senators have huddled privately since Sunday trying to wrap up the deal, which would be a first phase of an eventual $4 trillion-plus package of domestic outlays — not just for roads and bridges, but foundations of everyday life including child care, family tax breaks, education and an expansion of Medicare for seniors.
Biden, who was headed to Ohio later Wednesday to push his economic policies, is calling his infrastructure agenda a “blue-collar blueprint for building an American economy back.” He has said that Americans are overwhelmingly in support of his plan.
However, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said big spending is “the last thing American families need.”
The next steps are uncertain, and the bipartisan group was huddling privately for lunch ahead of Wednesday’s vote, joined by the two leaders of the House’s Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group generally supportive of the senators’ efforts.
Schumer said senators are in the fourth week of negotiations after reaching agreement on a broad framework for infrastructure spending with the White House. He said that the vote is not meant to be a deadline for having every detail worked out.
“My colleagues are well aware that we often agree to move forward with debates on issues before we have the text in hand,” Schumer said. “We’ve done it twice this year already.”
McConnell of Kentucky called the vote a “stunt” …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment