Saturday, July 24, 2021

Biden's Infrastructure Boondoggle Won't Pass

Good thing. *Phew.*

At the New York Times, "G.O.P. Blocks Infrastructure Debate in Senate, Raising Doubts About a Deal":

WASHINGTON — Republicans blocked the Senate on Wednesday from taking up an emerging bipartisan infrastructure plan, raising doubts about the fate of a major piece of President Biden’s agenda even as negotiators continued to seek a compromise.

The failed vote underscored the intense mistrust between the two parties, which has complicated the effort to complete a deal. Both Republicans and Democrats in the group seeking a deal say they are still making progress toward agreement on a package with nearly $600 billion in new funds for roads, bridges, rail, transit and other infrastructure, which could be the first major infusion of federal public works spending since the 2009 stimulus law.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, forced the vote in a bid to intensify pressure for a swift resolution to the talks, acting over the pleas of centrist Republicans who said they needed more time to solidify their deal with Democrats. With many Democrats harboring concerns that Republicans will drag out the process only to withhold support from a final bill, he argued that there was still time to iron out final details.

“This vote is not a deadline to have every final detail worked out — it is not an attempt to jam anyone,” Mr. Schumer said before the vote, adding that negotiators would have “many opportunities” to add their plan to the bill “even if they need a few more days to finalize the language.”

But Republicans said they were not ready to commit to considering an infrastructure measure, and warned that putting the matter to a vote risked scuttling a potential bipartisan breakthrough. On Wednesday, as they shuttled between meetings and votes, Republican negotiators said a final deal could emerge in the coming days, about a month after they first triumphantly announced agreement on a framework.

“We’re optimistic that once we get past this vote today, that we’re going to continue our work and that we will be ready in the coming days,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and a key negotiator. She said members of the group “think that we will be largely ready on Monday.”

With all 50 Republicans in the Senate opposed, Democrats fell short of the 60 votes that would have been needed to move forward with an infrastructure debate. All 50 members of the Democratic caucus initially voted to proceed, but Mr. Schumer switched his vote to enable him under Senate rules to bring up the measure again.

It was an inauspicious beginning to what Democrats had hoped would be a period of intense activity on Capitol Hill, with action on a bipartisan infrastructure measure and a far more ambitious, $3.5 trillion partisan budget blueprint that would include money to address climate change, expand health care and education and broaden child care and paid leave.

Instead, senators spent Wednesday voicing frustration over their failure to begin debating the infrastructure plan and privately meeting to work through the details of how to structure and finance the package...

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