Senate Republicans Block Debate on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill over Lack of Final Text

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after the Senate Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, June 22, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

All Senate Republicans voted against opening debate on a bipartisan infrastructure bill on Wednesday.

The proposal would spend roughly $1.2 trillion on infrastructure upgrades and has the support of eleven Senate Republicans, who nevertheless voted against opening debate because the text of the bill has not been finalized.

With Republicans and Democrats tied 50-50 in the Senate, that GOP support gives the proposal a filibuster-proof majority.

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We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement,” the group of Republican and Democratic senators working on the proposal said in a statement. “We will continue working hard to ensure we get this critical legislation right.”

Republicans asked Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) in a letter on Tuesday to delay the vote, because caucus members have not yet reached an agreement with Democrats to negotiate the legislation. Schumer decided to move ahead with the procedural vote on the bill despite GOP reservations.

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McConnell slammed Schumer for calling a vote “he knows will fail” to begin debate on Biden’s infrastructure deal.

“Around here, we typically write the bills before we vote on them,” he said https://t.co/8ItXB3aLgm pic.twitter.com/UOQLkw4GzJ

— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) July 21, 2021

“Obviously if the Democratic Leader tries to force a cloture vote on a bill that does not exist, it will fail,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said in a floor speech before the vote. “Around here, we typically write the bills before we vote on them.”

Ten Republicans could still vote to open debate on the legislation this coming Monday, a Senate GOP source told CNN on Tuesday.

Moderate Senate Democrats said they would back opening debate following meetings with Schumer on Tuesday.

“Chuck has a strategy he’s working on, and I trust him when he tells me: ‘Hey, we’re going to pass this bill. I want it to pass’,” Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) told reporters. “I believe him.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are planning to pass a partisan infrastructure plan via budget reconciliation rules in the Senate, which allow certain pieces of legislation to pass with a simple majority vote. The plan, expected to cost $3.5 trillion, will likely include measures that are not passed in the bipartisan bill.

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