WASHINGTON – Time is running out for Congress to honor President Joe Biden’s economic agenda as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is trying to force negotiators to reach a final infrastructure deal by next week.
Schumer said on Thursday he wanted a crucial procedural vote on the main bipartisan infrastructure deal on Wednesday. But it’s not clear there will be a bill to vote on by then, upset some Republicans who have said they won’t support moving forward without a finished product.
The 10 senators vying for the proposal met with key White House officials Thursday afternoon and left for the week without completing the bill, saying they would work remotely over the weekend to try to achieve to a deal before Wednesday’s deadline set by the New York Democrat.
Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., A close ally of Biden, said it would be “a very busy weekend.”
Schumer is looking to play hard and pressure senators to finish writing the legislation to stick to his goal of passing it this month, according to a Democrat familiar with the process.
Senate Democrats are eager to complete the infrastructure bill, which provides $ 579 billion to build roads, bridges and mass transit, and to officially begin the 3,500 party line bill. billion dollars before a month-long hiatus scheduled for August. They fear crashing into fall deadlines to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, two issues that could be controversial.
Republicans are in less of a hurry.
“There will be a vote on Wednesday, but I don’t know if there will be a product on Wednesday,” Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the party’s chief negotiator told reporters. “We’re going to do it. I don’t know if we’ll set anyone’s arbitrary schedule.”
He added: “I appreciate that the majority leader wants us to have a vote on this, and to have a vote as soon as possible. I don’t disagree with that. But as soon as possible means when it’s ready. It must be a product that has been properly monitored. “
This audit is carried out by an expanded group of 22 senators who examine both the spending planned in the bill and how to pay the $ 579 billion in new spending.
Senator Mike Rounds, RS.D., said the group is “going in the right direction” and “getting closer” to a final bill and working out some of the “finer details” of how the money must be spent. But a problem persists: “We still lack remuneration,” he said.
A point of contention is a provision that calls for revenue from increased enforcement of the IRS, money for which the Congressional Budget Office is not supposed to give credit to the group. Republicans are also demanding “safeguards” in the bill on how this additional tax enforcement can be carried out.
Rounds said the fate of this funding mechanism is not clear: “It depends on whether or not we can come to an agreement on the safeguards or not.”
If removed, the group will have to pay other income or compensation. And that turns out to be a difficult task.
“It’s being negotiated,” Sen Jon Tester, D-Mont., Told reporters, saying the group was looking for other ways to pay for the expenses.
Thursday’s meeting on Capitol Hill brought together White House officials, including Biden adviser Steve Ricchetti, economic adviser Brian Deese and legislative liaison Louisa Terrell.
âThe good news is we’re still talking. The good news and the bad news is that we have a pretty tight schedule, âSenator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters after the meeting.
She said Schumer’s goal on Wednesday was “quite aggressive”.
âThat means we have a lot of work to do, which means these types of conversations that we just had with our party of 10, plus the White House coming up, are really important,â Murkowski said.
In the absence of a final bill, Schumer plans to come up with an independent vehicle early next week that would overcome early procedural hurdles and be replaced by infrastructure legislation once finalized. It will take 60 votes to break an obstruction.
âWell, the bipartisan plan will only succeed if it is paid off without raising taxes and increasing debt. And I will only vote for it if we get there,â R-Utah Senator Mitt Romney said. “And we’re still working on it.”
Haley talbot, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Garrett haake contributed.