Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to block a bipartisan infrastructure package on Tuesday if Democrats cut off debate on amendments too quickly.
The Kentucky Republican’s warning comes in response to a plan by Democrats to wrap up the $1.2 trillion measure this week. Democrats plan a Thursday vote to end debate on carefully negotiated legislation and to pass it before leaving town for the Friday funeral of former Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, who died following a bicycle accident last week.
That’s too fast, McConnell warned.
“This is an extremely important bipartisan bill,” McConnell told reporters. “There's an excellent chance it will be a bipartisan success story for the country, and to try to truncate an amendment process on something of this magnitude, I think it's a mistake.”
Republicans accuse Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of attempting to rush passage of the spending bill in order to clear next week’s schedule for a critical budget resolution that would give Democrats the authority unilaterally to pass a $3.5 trillion spending measure later this year. No Republican is expected to support the resolution, but it can pass with a simple majority.
“I understand that the rush to get this done is so that Sen. Schumer and the Democrats can then move to that $3.5 trillion tax-and-spending spree that they want to get on immediately after the bipartisan bill,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a South Dakota Republican.
McConnell wants the Senate to continue debating the infrastructure bill and amendments requested by the GOP into next week. Negotiators released the text of the 2,700-page measure on Sunday, and lawmakers have not been provided sufficient time to digest it, McConnell said.
Democrats, meanwhile, are touting the bipartisan cooperation and amendments that have been considered in the past few days.
Schumer said the Senate will finish both the infrastructure bill and the budget resolution “before we leave for August recess” and warned, “The longer it takes to finish this bill, the longer we will be here.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said the bipartisan cooperation so far harkens back to the old ways of the Senate, when the parties worked together.
“People know we can make history in the Senate this week, with an infrastructure bill that is long overdue.”
Schumer has not responded yet to McConnell’s demand that the debate continue into next week.
Other Democrats signaled they are running out of patience for the GOP.
“Hearing lots of Republicans griping about amendments,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, tweeted. “Republicans already received more roll call votes on their amendments this year than in any year under Trump/McConnell. Oh and they’re getting votes on their amendments right now. Spare us.”
McConnell's threat signals the debate on the bill will likely have to continue into next week since it requires at least 10 Republicans to avoid a filibuster.
The bipartisan bill took weeks of negotiations between the White House and a group of Senate Republicans and Democrats.
While McConnell is threatening to block quick passage, he suggested it can ultimately pass with bipartisan support.
“I’m interested in what it looks like at the end,” McConnell said. “But I'm in favor of trying to get an outcome on a bipartisan infrastructure package. The past two administrations tried to do it and were unable to. The American people need it. I think it's one of those areas where there seems to be a broad bipartisan agreement.”
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: McConnell warns Democrats he'll block rushed infrastructure package