(LR) US Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), Sen. Jon Tester (R-MT) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) arrive at the U.S. Capitol after meeting President Joe Biden at the White House on June 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.
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The Senate faces a shortage of time to pass President Joe Biden’s comprehensive agenda as Senators attempt this week to finalize and advance a bipartisan infrastructure package.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers want to release a bill on Monday that would put $ 579 billion in new funds into transport, broadband and utilities. Disputes over issues such as financing transit have prevented the senators from finalizing the legislation.
“We’re about 90 percent of the way,” Ohio Senator Rob Portman, chief GOP negotiator, told ABC’s This Week on Sunday. He added that he “feels good to do this this week,” pointing out funds in transit as the biggest obstacle to a deal.
Democratic senators and White House officials sent the GOP side a counteroffer that would address any remaining sticking points, NBC News reported Monday. It’s unclear whether Republicans will accept the proposal.
Republicans voted against advancing the framework last week in the Senate while the group tried to finalize the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., can re-launch the procedural vote once the Senators publish the bill.
Democratic leaders are rushing to pass both the infrastructure plan and a second party law that would invest in childcare, education and efforts to curb climate change. Biden sees both parts of his agenda as critical to boosting the economy and creating a stronger social safety net as the US emerges from the wreckage of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Schumer wants to make progress on both fronts in the coming weeks. He hopes to pass both the bipartisan bill and a budget resolution – which would allow his party to pass its $ 3.5 trillion plan with no Republican Senate votes, 50-50 split by party – before the Kammer is setting out on her August break.
The Senate plans to leave Washington between August 9th and September 10th. Schumer has announced that he will keep the Chamber in session until the Infrastructure Act and the budget resolution have been passed.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said she would not adopt either of the proposals until the Senate passes both of them. The strategy has raised concerns among Republicans, who fear that voting on the bipartisan plan will give the $ 3.5 trillion Democratic package a better chance of passing, and among Middle Democrats who grapple with it her party’s evolving proposal is still uncomfortable.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat who worked with senators on the infrastructure plan, told CNBC on Monday that he would push for a separate House vote on the bipartisan bill when it comes through the Senate.
“If we can do what I think and I am confident that we can do it, we should get an independent vote in the House,” he said.
Pelosi reiterated its strategy on Sunday to tackle both bills together.
“I’m not going to put it on the floor until we have the rest of the initiative,” she said, “This week.”
With narrow majorities in both chambers, the Democrats have to keep their parliamentary groups united behind two massive spending bills. To get through the Senate, the bipartisan plan would need the votes of all 50 Democrats and at least 10 Republicans.
Schumer must get every member of his parliamentary group to support the law of reconciliation. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, among others, has raised concerns about the cost of the plan.
The Democrats also hold a slim majority of 220-211 in the House of Representatives.
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