Senate Republicans threw a major curveball to Joe Biden and his Democrat lackeys when they halted a debate on the upcoming, and much negotiated, infrastructure bill. The Democrats have attempted to sneak in radical Far-Left measures into the bill, including mass amnesty for illegal immigrants and massive spending on entitlements.
Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had scheduled the procedural vote that he described as a step to “get the ball rolling” as talks progress. But Republicans mounted a filibuster, saying the bipartisan group needed more time to wrap up the deal and review the details. They sought a delay until Monday.
The nearly $1 trillion measure over five years includes about $579 billion in new spending on roads, broadband and other public works projects — a first phase of Biden’s infrastructure agenda, to be followed by a much broader $3.5 trillion second measure from Democrats next month.
The party-line vote was 51-49 against proceeding, far short of the 60 “yes” votes needed to get past the Republicans’ block. The Democratic leader switched his vote to “no” at the end, a procedural step that would allow him to move to reconsider.
Six months after Biden took office, his signature “Build Back Better” campaign promise is at a key moment that will test the presidency and his hopes for a new era of bipartisan cooperation in Washington.
Biden, who headed to Ohio later Wednesday to promote 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 Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said big spending is “the last thing American families need.”
White House aides and the bipartisan group of senators have huddled privately every day 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.
Senators from the Republican side asked to delay the vote, and 11 Republicans signed on to a letter to Schumer saying they would support moving forward with a yes vote on Monday, if certain details about the package are ready.
McConnell called the vote a “stunt” that would fail, but emphasized senators were “still negotiating in good faith across the aisle.”
“Around here, we typically write the bills before we vote on them,” he said.
A core group of Republicans are interested in pursuing a more modest package of traditional highway and public works projects, about $600 billion in new funds, and say they just need more time to negotiate with their Democratic colleagues and the White House.
Many Republicans are wary of moving 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 only require 51 votes. Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been working to keep restless liberal Democrats in her chamber in line, as rank-and-file lawmakers grow impatient with the sluggish Senate pace.
Author: Nolan Sheridan