He has plenty of support for that, importantly included that of President Joe Biden. “We should be united on one thing—passage of the bipartisan infrastructure framework, which we shook hands on. We shook hands on it,” Biden said Monday.
But Republicans are pretending that this has been sprung on them out of thin air and they can’t possibly take this kind of pressure. They are promising they will—surprise, surprise—filibuster the whole idea of moving forward legislatively on this supposed agreement to come up with a bill.
He’s not going to get 60, let’s put it that way,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune. “The legislation is not drafted, the pay-fors are a long ways away. Patience is going to be a virtue.” It’s always worth mentioning that the “pay-fors” are now in question because Republicans are protecting rich people from having to pay the taxes that they legally owe. Who are they to get in the way of the multi-billionaire asshole space race, after all.
Schumer’s leadership team is showing little patience for Republicans, finally. “It’s Monday in the United States Senate,” Sen. Patty Murray, Schumer’s #3 in leadership, said Monday. “That [vote is] Wednesday. That’s a long way between then and now. […] We need a resolution to this. There’s a lot more work to get done.” There seems to be unity among Democrats on that—no one even in the bipartisan group is complaining about having a vote before they’re ready.
Sen. Mark Warner, who has been one of the key negotiators on the thing, said “You got to keep the pressure on.” Even the perpetual thorn in all our sides, Sen. Joe Manchin says Wednesday’s vote is part of a “routine process” and that “it’s a sign of good faith from both sides that negotiations will continue in earnest.” Another, Montana’s Jon Tester, was more pointed.
What Manchin will say when there are zero votes from Republicans Wednesday about “good faith from both sides” will be interesting. Because the two most likely Republicans in the gang to show good faith aren’t right now. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, isn’t ruling out voting for cloture on the bill, but groused about the total red herring that it’s important “people have an opportunity to actually look at what they might be voting on.” Again, this isn’t a vote on the bill. It’s a vote on whether the Senate will talk about having a bill. Sen. Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican who occasionally bucks McConnell and is on the gang, said he’d vote no “if we are still working on major provisions of the bill and we don’t have a bill in front of us.”
The chances that they have a bill in front of them on Wednesday are pretty damned slim, since they’ve had since at least June 10, if we’re going to be generous about this, to get something on paper. That was the day that Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema sent out a press release saying they had agreed to talk. Then there’s always the very concerned Sen. Susan Collins, sighing in her disappointment that Democrats expect actual work from her.
That’s after their Republican colleague Sen. Shelley Moore Capito dragged Biden through at least six weeks of fruitless negotiations. It would seem that anyone, even a Republican, would be able to get some legislative language for a huge priority on paper in three month’s time.
While the Republican charade continues in the Senate, House Democrats are getting pretty fed up, having already passed an infrastructure bill for transportation and water—what this Senate bipartisan bill is supposedly aiming to do. House Democrats had a call Monday, and it was apparently pretty lit. “I said the whole process seemed like [bullshit],” Rep. Salud Carbajal of California told Politico. “A lot of work has gone into this. There’s been a bipartisan effort to really align everything together, and you know it’s just very frustrating and disappointing when so much work goes into this. […] It is just annoying, to say the least.”
Rep. Peter DeFazio, chair of the transportation committee, agreed. He reportedly told the Democrats on the call that “whole thing falling apart is probably the best thing,” referring to the Senate talks. He also circulated a memo among the Democrats contrasting the legislation they passed to what public information there is on the Senate talks. One example he gave is the $30 billion in climate measures included in the House bill, compared to the $18 billion in bipartisan framework. “Republicans in the Senate are pushing to underfund transit,” the memo states. In it, DeFazio called it a “nonstarter.”
Wednesday should be the end to the bipartisan farce. Sen. Bernie Sanders, chair of the budget committee and in charge of steering the budget reconciliation bill that will include all of Biden’s other infrastructure priorities, is ready for that. “If [bipartisan] talks, for whatever reason, fall apart, we’re going to have to put physical infrastructure into the reconciliation.”