While President Biden answers questions from a stage in Cincinnati about his infrastructure agenda, back in Washington, DC, the legislation is facing hurdles in Congress.
Senate Republicans blocked a vote Wednesday to start debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, as they push for more time to strike a deal with Democrats and write the legislation.
The vote was 49-51, short of the 60 votes needed to advance the measure.
But lawmakers said their negotiations will intensify over the next few days with the goal of trying again to advance the measure by early next week.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer defended his decision to set up the vote despite Republican opposition, pointing out that the bipartisan group has spent more than a month negotiating. He said Wednesday that bipartisan negotiators are “close to finalizing their product” and that GOP senators “should feel comfortable voting to move forward today.”
“We all want the same thing here: to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill,” said Schumer. “But in order to finish the bill, we first need to start.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the push to advance the bill was a “stunt” that is “set to fail” because negotiators have not finalized an agreement.
Some background: Despite the finger-pointing among their party leaders, the bipartisan group could draft the bill and advance it in the coming days. Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said Wednesday that she and 10 other GOP senators are sending Schumer a letter committing to advance the bill on Monday if a deal is finalized.
In June, the White House and a bipartisan Senate group agreed to a $579 billion in new spending to build roads, bridges, railroads and airports, along with water, power and broadband infrastructure projects.