By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senate Republicans on Monday called on Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to delay an expected procedural vote on a bipartisan infrastructure package, as negotiators struggled with ways to pay for the cost of the measure. Schumer said last week that he intended to begin the process on Monday for the […]
U.S. Senate Republicans urge delay of bipartisan infrastructure vote
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senate Republicans on Monday called on Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to delay an expected procedural vote on a bipartisan infrastructure package, as negotiators struggled with ways to pay for the cost of the measure.
Schumer said last week that he intended to begin the process on Monday for the Senate to hold a Wednesday procedural vote on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that is a key part of Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Senator John Thune, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, urged Schumer to delay the Wednesday vote if the legislation is not ready by then.
“If he moves ahead arbitrarily, before they actually come to some sort of a deal, then yeah, all it’s going to do is drag it out, make it harder to get a deal in the end,” Thune told reporters.
Thune said provisions for covering the cost of the bill were “a long ways from being ready.”
It is unclear if the bipartisan bill under negotiation could garner the necessary votes to move forward on Wednesday. Republican Senator Rob Portman, one of the leaders of the group, has said he would vote against the bill if legislation was not ready. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said that the upper chamber should not vote on agreeing to debate a bill before senators see the text of it.
Portman said on Sunday that the group had scuttled a proposal for the Internal Revenue Service to step up its pursuit of tax cheats.
But Cassidy suggested the group had not made a final decision to jettison the tax proposal, telling reporters: “Who said we’re taking the IRS enforcement out?”
Senators in the group said they had met late into Sunday evening and had planned to meet again for hours on Monday. They said they were considering provisions to reinstate fees on chemicals to fund the Superfund program, which cleans up contaminated waste sites, as well as other possible fees to cover costs.
Aides to Schumer did not immediately respond to request for comment about a possible delay.
Democratic Senator Jon Tester said he expected Schumer to move forward as planned. He thought the group could have legislative text by Wednesday, Tester told reporters.
Schumer has said infrastructure was moving on two tracks. Aside from the first, bipartisan track, Democrats are also moving forward with a different $3.5 trillion infrastructure package using a procedural tool known as reconciliation.
Republicans oppose the second track.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Karishma Singh)