Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a strong message to his Republican colleagues by defiantly telling them he still has ‘every intention’ of passing ambitious infrastructure legislation totaling nearly $5trillion by the end of summer.
The Democrat’s remarks on the Senate floor Thursday come a day after Republicans struck down the smaller of two spending packages in a procedural vote on Wednesday.
‘As majority leader I have every intention of passing both major infrastructure packages – the bipartisan infrastructure framework and a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions – before we leave for the August recess,” Schumer said.
‘The Senate is going to keep working on both tracks of infrastructure in order to achieve them.’
The Wednesday vote was a setback to Democrats pushing President Joe Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda.
The final vote was 49 for it and 51 against. Not a single Republican voted for the $1.2trillion package, including any of the senators who are working with Democrats to come to an agreement on a bipartisan bill.
Many of the Republican negotiators expressed concern over voting for a spending package they haven’t yet seen.
Schumer, who switched his vote to a no at the end, said he did it so he could ‘move to reconsider the vote at a future time.’
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer defended holding Wednesday’s procedural vote, saying it was time to move the legislative process forward
Democrats needed 10 Republican votes to reach the 60 senator supermajority to advance the legislation.
The second spending package, which has no Republican support, is Biden’s $3.5trillion ‘human’ infrastructure package of social programs, including free pre-K and community college, expanded paid family and medical leave, environmental programs and immigration reform.
Passing the second bill through a process called budget reconciliation would mean Democrats only need a simple majority – which they currently hold in the Senate – for it to pass.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney is one of the lawmakers advocating to delay the vote until Monday to give them more time to negotiate
Schumer said both bills are ‘essential to maximize our economic potential,’ citing a report by economist Mark Zandi, who served as an adviser to Republican Senator John McCain.
‘And together, they would give a massive boost to the economy, ease inflation pressures, create jobs, increase productivity and reduce income inequality,’ the Democratic leader said. ‘These are incredibly worthy goals.’
The bipartisan group working on the smaller bill said they expect to finish their work by Monday. Schumer could bring the legislation up again next week. He has said he wants it finished by the time the Senate leaves on its August recess.
Senator Mitch McConnell called the Wednesday vote a ‘stunt’ and accused Schumer of ‘playing games’
On Thursday Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell accused Schumer of ‘playing games’ by scheduling the vote.
‘Today that Democratic leader appears to be and count on calling a vote he knows will fail,’ McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor. ‘It will fail. Around here we typically write the bills before we vote on them. That is the custom.’
Republicans have complained they will not vote for a bill before it is written. The bipartisan group negotiating the measure – which funds traditional infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and water ways – is finalizing the details of the legislation and how it will be paid for.
‘This stunt is set to fail,’ McConnell said, asking ‘so who’s playing games.’
Democrats appeared to face another blow to their attempts to skirt Republican opposition when Biden came out against abolishing the filibuster at a CNN town hall in Ohio Wednesday night.
He warned that doing so would ‘throw the entire Congress into chaos’ where ‘nothing at all would get done.’
Biden said eliminating the filibuster would throw Congress into ‘chaos’ and distract from passing other items on Democrats’ agenda
Biden encouraged the Senate to focus on passing bipartisan voting rights legislation instead
Biden conceded that the ‘abuse’ of the filibuster was ‘overwhelming,’ but instead of ending it, he suggested bringing back the rigorous standards for conducting a filibuster that were common when he was first elected nearly 50 years ago.
‘If you were to filibuster, you had to stand on the floor and hold the floor,’ Biden said. ‘There were significantly fewer filibusters in those days – in the middle of the Civil Rights movement.’
Biden suggested the Senate shift its focus to passing bipartisan voting rights legislation along with Republicans who ‘know better than this.’
‘What I don’t want to do, is get wrapped up right now in the argument over whether or not this is all about the filibuster,’ he said.