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Schumer leaves door open for second vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal

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The Hill
The Hill
 12 days ago
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© Greg Nash

Senators say they expect Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to try for a second time to start debate on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, if a group of senators from both parties is able to finalize their agreement.

"That's what he said he would do," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Schumer's No. 2, when asked if Democrats would try again to start debate on the bipartisan proposal.

Durbin indicated that he expects that the second vote would take place next week and that he believes the bipartisan group will be ready to move forward by Monday.

"I was in the meeting and they felt pretty confident," he said.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a member of the bipartisan group, also told reporters that he expects Schumer to move to set up another vote next week to start debate on the bipartisan proposal if the group is able to "get everything together."

The expected next step comes after Republicans blocked the Senate from starting debate on Wednesday as the bipartisan group rushes to finalize their agreement.

Schumer hasn't explicitly specified what he'll do next, but he notably voted "no" Wednesday on advancing the Senate toward an infrastructure debate.

It's a procedural move that allows him to quickly bring back up a bill that senators are using as a shell for the bipartisan group's eventual text, if they are able to quickly resolve their remaining sticking points.

"At the end of the vote, I changed my response to a 'no' so that I may move to reconsider this vote at a future time," Schumer said after the vote, explaining his maneuvering.

Democrats are pursuing President Biden 's sweeping jobs and families plan along two tracks: A bipartisan track and a $3.5 trillion bill that they want to pass under reconciliation, the budget process that lets them bypass a 60-vote filibuster.

House progressives have been urging Democrats to move on to the budget resolution, where Schumer will need total unity from his 50 members, after Wednesday's failed vote. But members of his own caucus have been giving him more leeway to figure out the floor wrangling.

"If Senator Schumer thinks it will be better to hold back so he can vote on this a second time, that's a decision for him," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also indicated to reporters on Wednesday that his timeline for having the budget resolution ready for floor consideration is early August, which would give the bipartisan group more time.

The bipartisan group released a statement after Wednesday's failed vote stressing that they believe they are close to a final agreement, after announcing late last month with President Biden that they had reached a deal on a framework for their $1.2 trillion plan.

"We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement," they said in a joint statement, adding that they thought they would be ready to advance their proposal in the "coming days."

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) noted that the decision on scheduling was ultimately up to Schumer but that he expects another vote as soon as Monday.

"I can't speak for him but we'll be ready if we get a vote on Monday, which I expect but that's up to the leader," Romney said.

The group isn't expected to have legislative text ready to go by Monday, but they believe they'll have their talks wrapped up and key analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) ready to share with their colleagues.

"We suggested it be on Monday. Because we think we'll be ready by then. And ready means ... we have our CBO scores by then. We have our Joint Committee on Taxation scores, or we will by then," said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the lead negotiator for Republicans.

"We're saying we do want this to take up this bill as soon as we are, we think that will be Monday," Portman added.

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