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.