September 23, 2021

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Senate votes to end debate on $1T infrastructure bill | TheHill – The Hill

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The Senate on Sunday night voted to end debate on a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, putting it on a glide path, albeit a lengthy one, to passing this week. 

Senators voted 68-29 to end debate on the bill, which required 60 votes. Eighteen GOP senators joined with all Democrats to help advance the legislation.  

Even though the legislation — crafted by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House — is all but guaranteed to pass the Senate and head to the House, opponents could still use the chamber’s rules to run the clock for an additional 30 hours before the Senate can take a final vote. That would delay passage of the bill, absent an agreement, until early Tuesday morning.

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The Senate’s snail-like pace comes as senators hit a stalemate while trying to reach an agreement to set up votes on potential changes to the legislation in exchange for senators agreeing to speed things up. 

“Democrats are ready and willing to vote on additional amendments to the bill before moving to final passage. Once again that will require the cooperation of our Republican colleagues. I hope they will cooperate so we can move more quickly. Otherwise we’ll proceed by the book and finish the bill,” Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerAddressing the health care worker shortages that made COVID-19 worse Lawmakers must also serve as community organizers In praise of Susan Collins’ persistent bipartisanship MORE (D-N.Y.) said from the Senate floor.  

Senators had hoped to finish the bipartisan bill last week in a marathon session that would have lasted late into Thursday night or early Friday morning and involved voting on anywhere between 16 and 25 amendments.

But they weren’t able to get buy-in from Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and the all-night slog would have pushed up against an early-morning flight that dozens of senators were taking to Wyoming for the late Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by AT&T – Biden celebrates monstrous jobs report The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Infrastructure bill poised for Senate weekend vote MORE‘s (R-Wyo.) funeral. 

Hagerty warned over the weekend that he wouldn’t sign off on allowing the bipartisan bill to be sped up even if it meant some of his GOP colleagues would get votes on their proposed amendments. 

Senators view the two negotiations — getting an agreement to speed up the bill and getting a deal to allow for votes on potential changes — as linked, and other GOP senators had signaled that they were fine with the trade-off.  

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“What they’re asking for is an expedited process that has nothing to do with the amendments. I’m not against any of the amendments, not opposed to any of them. I’m not the one holding any of the amendments up. They’re free to start under normal order,” Hagerty told reporters.

Hagerty took to the floor on Sunday to try to set up amendment votes. Unlike the deal that was circulated by leadership last week, his offer wouldn’t speed up passage of the bill. Hagerty’s move was blocked on Sunday by Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill McConnell urges Biden to withdraw embattled ATF nominee The “compromise” crypto amendment is no compromise at all MORE (Ariz.), who led the negotiations on the bill for Democrats. 

Sinema noted that there were “senators on both sides of the aisle who object to unanimous consent on one or more of the amendments listed in his proposed list.” 

“We do not have unanimous consent on either a time agreement or on moving forward on amendments,” she said.  

Hagerty, who has bristled at the idea that he’s negatively impacting the ability to get amendment votes, argued the roadblock to his request signaled that Democrats “can’t take yes for an answer” and are trying to use the prospect of amendments as leverage to “rush” the bill. 

Negotiators were still working behind the scenes on Sunday to try to work out final agreements in the event of a breakthrough, including talks to try to resolve a fight over cryptocurrency that has split Republicans and pitted the White House against Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill GOP senator vows to slow-walk T infrastructure bill, sparking standoff The Senate should support innovation and pass the Lummis-Wyden-Toomey amendment MORE (D-Ore.). 

Setting up votes on any additional amendments requires buy-in from all 100 senators. 

Despite the drama, senators still expect the bipartisan bill to pass this week even if they aren’t able to get a deal that allows senators to get additional amendment votes. 

“I think the vote margin could increase if people got votes on amendments … but probably not,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill GOP senator vows to slow-walk T infrastructure bill, sparking standoff T infrastructure bill passes key test vote MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, when asked if he thought the margin of support changed if they couldn’t work out an amendment deal. 

Eighteen Republican senators helped get the bill over a key hurdle on Saturday. GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill Reba McEntire announces breakthrough COVID-19 infection Rep. Sharice Davids becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case MORE (S.C.), who supports the deal, is in quarantine after testing positive with a breakthrough COVID-19 case. 

Though the same number voted to advance the bill on Sunday night, the group was scrambled.

Sens. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill CBO says bipartisan infrastructure bill would add 6B to deficit over 10 years Kaine says he has votes to pass Iraq War repeal in Senate MORE (R-Ind.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: Biden faces pressure from Democrats to shrink size of Guantánamo Bay Democratic senators increase pressure to declassify 9/11 documents related to Saudi role in attacks MORE (R-Iowa), who previously voted to support the bill, voted against it on Sunday. Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill New hurdle slows trillion infrastructure bill GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal MORE (R-Miss.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee ‘Havana Syndrome’ response Graham’s COVID-19 ‘breakthrough’ case jolts Senate MORE (R-Alaska), who voted no on Saturday, voted yes on Sunday. 

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Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill Biden pushes infrastructure package ahead of anticipated vote Trump slams McConnell, infrastructure package: ‘A disgrace’ MORE (R-S.D.), who voted yes on Saturday, was absent on Sunday, while Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill In praise of Susan Collins’ persistent bipartisanship Seven-figure ad campaign urges GOP to support infrastructure bill MORE (R-N.C.), who supports the deal, missed Saturday’s vote but was present to vote on Sunday. 

The bill faces a less certain fate in the House, where Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill Cuomo investigation returns spotlight to workplace harassment Buttigieg: ‘We are within days, possibly within hours’ of infrastructure bill passing MORE (D-Calif.) has vowed that she won’t bring up the bipartisan deal until the Senate votes on a massive $3.5 trillion spending package not expected to come to the floor until this fall.  

But Pelosi’s thin majority gives lawmakers on both sides of her caucus leverage to elbow for competing priorities. 

House moderates are ramping up pressure for her to bring up the bipartisan bill as soon as it passes the Senate and noting that they have concerns about the larger $3.5 trillion package.  

That sparked backlash from high-profile progressives. 

“If mods want to blow up the infra deal, that’s on them,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSenate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t rule out challenging Schumer Biden emboldens establishment Democrats with ballot box wins MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted. “Just bc something is ‘bipartisan’ doesn’t mean it’s good. Look at Wall St bailouts.” 

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