Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Thursday he has scheduled a July 21 test vote on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill as lawmakers race to hammer out the final details of that measure, as well as a massive $3.5 trillion budget resolution.
Schumer (D-NY) added that he was anxious for Democrats to come to an agreement on the larger measure, which they will try to ram through the Senate with 51 votes and is expected to include increased spending on education, efforts to counter the effects of climate change, and social programs like Medicare.
“The time has come to make progress,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “And we will. We must.”
“Everyone has been having productive conversations and it’s important to keep the two-track process moving,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decried the $3.5 trillion plan as a “a grand socialist experiment” and accused Democrats of trying to “inflate their way out of inflation.”
“Running the country into the ground, both with taxing and debts, is not a good idea,” McConnell told Fox News Thursday, later adding: “It’s an introduction of socialism into America, done on a one-party basis in a Congress that’s virtually tied … They didn’t get a mandate to do this stuff. They’re not going to have any Republican’s help in doing this stuff. This is a left-wing dream of [Senate Budget Committee Chairman] Bernie Sanders.”
The bills are being constructed separately after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last month she would not consider the bipartisan bill until the Senate passed the larger package through the parliamentary gambit of reconciliation.
Sixty votes are required to begin debate on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, meaning at least 10 Republican senators would have to join all 50 Senate Democrats in voting “aye” if the Wednesday vote goes ahead as planned. That measure concentrates its spending on highway, water systems and other public works projects.
Lawmakers working on the bipartisan bill indicated Thursday that substantial hurdles remain, including how to pay for the nearly $579 billion in new spending over five years that they agreed to with the White House.
“There’s no reason to go prime time if you’re not ready,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), as he emerged from yet another round of talks, adding that the drafters were “still short on pay-fors.”
“I appreciate the fact that the majority leader wants to have a vote as soon as possible. I don’t disagree with that, but soon as possible means when it’s ready,” added Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). “It’s got to be a product that has gone through the proper vetting and we get it right.”
One of the biggest revenue-raisers, bolstering IRS enforcement to bring in an estimated $100 billion over 10 years, has been a major discussion point in negotiations. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said the group was looking at alternative measures.
Democrats announced their agreement on the $3.5 trillion resolution Tuesday night, but that was merely the first step. They must translate their plan into legislation with specific spending and revenue figures, then line up the needed votes to enact it, a process likely to grind right through autumn.
With Post wires