The Senate is going to vote on Wednesday afternoon on infrastructure procedure. To be absolutely clear, the Senate is going to vote on “a motion to proceed,” i.e., whether they should begin consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. This is just a vote to see if there is bipartisan agreement that in the near future they will consider a bipartisan bill. “A ‘Yes’ vote on the motion to proceed simply means that the Senate is ready to begin debating a bipartisan infrastructure bill,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has gone to great lengths to explain.
There will not be that agreement. Republicans are going to filibuster an invitation to start talking on the Senate floor about the bill they have supposedly been negotiating in good faith with Democrats for weeks. Because, they argue, they just don’t have the bill on paper. “I think there’s a unanimous point of view that we shouldn’t vote on the motion to proceed until people know what the summary is of the bill. They haven’t seen the numbers, they haven’t seen the pay-fors,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican who has been on the negotiating team for all these weeks in which nobody managed to get anything down on paper. Not even a summary.
So, yeah. This.
Republicans insist that they just need a little bit more time. “I would like to see the leader delay the vote until Monday. We’re making significant progress, but we need more time,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine on Tuesday. “There’s no magic in having the vote [Wednesday] and so if it were delayed until Monday, I think we could continue our work and present to our colleagues a more complete bill.” But they are not voting on a bill. They are voting on whether they want to talk about the bill. If they’re actually confident that they’ll have something concrete by Monday, they can vote to open debate even though the bill isn’t final, which is common practice. It would put the bill that much further ahead in getting through quickly so everybody could go home for August recess on time.
They don’t want that to happen because, as McConnell has made very clear, they don’t want this groundbreaking and extremely popular proposal from President Joe Biden and the Democrats to pass. Drawing it out as long as possible and trying to woo moderate Democrats away has been the strategy for McConnell and team—reliably led by Collins—all along.
Democrats did see this coming, which is why Schumer is forcing the vote Wednesday even knowing that Republicans will filibuster. Because Republicans filibustering bipartisanship demonstrates just how unserious they are. Schumer and Sen. Bernie Sanders, chair of the Budget Committee, are prepared.
If the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan plan fails, they’ll fold it in to the larger reconciliation bill they can pass with just Democratic votes. Or if absolutely necessary, they can add the already passed House transportation and water bill into this larger package, in the event that there really isn’t a bipartisan plan advanced enough to use—a distinct possibility since as of yet, no one has produced anything approaching legislative language on the thing. But taking the stuff that the Senate gang has agreed to would be a better approach for getting the two Democratic problem children—Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema—to stick with Democrats on reconciliation.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.