Republicans blocked action on the new bipartisan infrastructure deal on July 26th, but lawmakers said they expected to close in on a final agreement by early next week (citation).
A group of bipartisan senators worked privately with White House aids to put the deal together as the first phase of a much larger infrastructure package proposed by the Biden administration.
Some Republicans have said the proposal was being rushed and shouldn’t be voted on when it was not in its final form.
“This vote is not a deadline to have every final detail worked out — it is not an attempt to jam anyone,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. “The bipartisan group of senators will have many opportunities to make their agreement the base of the bill, even if they need a few more days to finalize the language.” *
Much of the disagreement about the plan has to do with how it will be paid for. Biden proposes a tax hike on corporations and wealthy Americans who make more than $400,000 per year. Senators wouldn’t agree to a gas tax increase or for strengthening the IRS to go after tax cheaters, so alternative funding hasn’t been hammered out yet.
One of the major obstacles for Republicans was that details were yet to be outlined.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the members of the bipartisan group. “We’re making progress, but we need more time.”
Many Republicans are wary of moving ahead with the slimmer 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. **
In principal, a good number of Republicans would like to pass an infrastructure deal. In order to pass, it would require at least 10 Republican senators to vote in favor of it. Some think that a vote at this time might actually interfere in the ongoing negotiations to work out a compromise.
The process has underscored the deep mistrust between the two parties. Under other circumstances agreeing to the outlines of the deal might have been enough.
Democrats have been anxious to show their constituents that the are making progress on the Biden agenda before leaving Washington for the August recess. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer might bring it up again later in the year but hasn’t said whether he would or not.
Democrats want to join this bipartisan deal with a $3.5 trillion package that will fund investment to address climate change, heath care and paid leave for workers. There is no expectation that any Republicans will join the $3.5 trillion package deal but Democrats with a tie-breaking majority may still be able to sign it into law.