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Senate Republicans Block Debate on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

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Senate Republicans have blocked a procedural vote to begin debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.

In a 49-51 vote on Wednesday, Democrats fell short of the required 60 votes to begin debate on the framework of the infrastructure package.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) switched to vote against the measure, which allows the chamber to hold another vote on the procedural move quickly.

The vote comes as a group of bipartisan senators is still in the midst of negotiations on the actual text of the infrastructure package. However, Senate Democrats are reportedly feeling pressure to begin efforts to pass the infrastructure package and a separate $3.5 trillion spending bill that they aim to pass with just Democratic votes.

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Most legislation requires 60 votes to pass the Senate, which is currently evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats hope that at least 10 Republicans will vote for the bipartisan infrastructure package.

Meanwhile, they want to use a process known as budget reconciliation which would let them pass a larger spending package with just 50 votes with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

Before the vote on Wednesday, Schumer urged his Republican colleagues to vote to begin debate on the infrastructure package, “This vote is only the first step in the legislative process on the Senate floor. It is merely a vote about whether the Senate is ready to begin debating a bipartisan infrastructure bill. I have also been very clear about what this vote is not: This vote is not a deadline to have every final detail worked out. It is not an attempt to jam anyone.”

However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) noted that the bill has not been finalized and claimed Schumer was “intent on calling a vote that he knows will fail.” 

Should they begin debate without the text of the bill?

“These discussions have yet to conclude. There’s no outcome yet… So, obviously, if the Democratic Leader tries to force a cloture vote on a bill that does not exist, it will fail,” he added.

After the procedural vote failed on Wednesday, the bipartisan group of senators said in a statement, “We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement. We will continue working hard to ensure we get this critical legislation right… We appreciate our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the administration, working with us.”

In June, President Joe Biden announced that he had reached a deal with the bipartisan group on the framework of the infrastructure package. Since then, the senators have been negotiating the details of the bill and how to pay for it.

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