Bipartisan $550B infrastructure bill nears critical Senate vote

By | August 5, 2021

Senate Democratic leaders are leaning toward a move to shut off debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill as soon as Thursday afternoon, likely setting up a crucial vote this weekend on one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer may put things in motion as soon as Thursday after the Senate considers more amendments to the bill, though no final decision has been made. He is expected to set a vote to overcome a conservative filibuster as soon as Saturday, when the bill would need the support of at least 10 GOP senators, according to multiple sources in both parties.

Those Republicans also want to see a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill’s financing that’s expected on Thursday.

Once the bill has overcome the chamber’s 60-vote requirement, it will be on a glide path to passage — potentially as soon as this weekend. Immediately after that, the Senate will turn to consider a Democratic budget that will set up potential future passage of a spending bill as large as $3.5 trillion. Senate leaders are discussing the particulars of how they can wrap up both issues but allow rank-and-file members sufficient time to debate and consider them.

Schumer did not indicate his intent to imminently wrap the infrastructure bill up during Thursday morning floor remarks. But he defended his stewardship of the process and boasted that under his control the chamber has considered more amendments so far than during the GOP-run years of 2019 and 2020 combined. He also signaled he wants to finish the bill providing $550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges and broadband as soon as he can.

“Today we will consider even more amendments. And then hopefully we can bring this bill to a close very shortly,” Schumer said. “Our goal is to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period, and we will stay here to get both done.”

As of Thursday morning, the chamber had considered 22 amendments, the majority of them from the GOP. Republicans are privately signaling they are likely to put up the votes to advance the bill, provided Thursday’s amendment consideration goes smoothly.

“I literally don’t know [what will happen]. I know what we’re aspiring to do but there’s no agreement yet,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “The general notion is the sooner the better that we can move to the budget resolution.”

Democrats plan to move the infrastructure bill toward a final vote as soon as the bill’s GOP supporters are satisfied with the opportunity to offer amendments. Thus far, 18 GOP senators — including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — have signaled support for the infrastructure bill on key procedural votes.

McConnell warned Schumer earlier this week not to cut off amendment consideration, urging Schumer to go “slow and steady.” But the consideration of the long-awaited infrastructure bill may be coming to a natural close, with many Republicans expected to attend the Friday funeral of former Sen. Mike Enzi in Wyoming and then fly back for Saturday work.