WASHINGTON (July 21, 2021) — Senate Republicans rejected an effort Wednesday to begin debate on a big infrastructure deal that a bipartisan group of senators brokered with President Joe Biden.
Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York had scheduled the procedural vote that he described as a step to ”get the ball rolling” as talks progress. But Republicans mounted a filibuster, saying the bipartisan group needed more time to wrap up the deal and review the details. They sought a delay until Monday.
The party-line vote was 51-49 against proceeding, far short of the 60 “yes” votes needed to get past the Republicans' block. The Democratic leader switched his vote to “no” at the end, a procedural step that would allow him to move to reconsider.
The nearly $1 trillion measure over five years includes about $579 billion in new spending on roads, broadband and other public works projects — a first phase of Biden's infrastructure agenda, to be followed by a much broader $3.5 trillion second measure from Democrats next month. That second measure has little to do with building and repairing roads and bridges. Instead, it deals with the Democrats wishlist of items such as climate change and universal daycare.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said big spending is “the last thing American families need.”
McConnell called the vote a “stunt” that would fail, but emphasized senators were “still negotiating in good faith across the aisle.”
“Around here, we typically write the bills before we vote on them,” he said.
Ten Republicans would have been needed in the evenly split Senate to join all 50 Democrats in reaching the 60-vote threshold required to advance the bill past a filibuster to formal consideration. Schumer can set another vote to proceed to the bill later.
Many Republicans are wary of moving ahead with the first, relatively slim 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.