OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Whatever designs Senate Majority Leader and New York Sen. Charles Schumer had on ramrodding Joe Biden and the Democrats’ infrastructure deal through the senate he better think again.
On Saturday as the Senate voted to move the near $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill forward, but one Republican stood in the way of it getting passed quickly, Reuters reported.
In a 67-27 vote demonstrating broad support, senators agreed to limit debate on the legislation, the biggest investment in decades in America’s roads, bridges, airports and waterways.
Eighteen of 50 Senate Republicans voted to move the legislation forward, with Senators John Cornyn and Deb Fischer backing the package for the first time.
But on Saturday evening, progress stalled on an agreement on amendments that could have allowed the Senate to speed up consideration of the legislation…
Republican Senator Bill Hagerty took to the Senate floor to underscore his opposition to expediting the process, saying the legislation would add to the national debt and set the stage for Democrats to move forward with a separate $3.5 trillion spending package which Republicans vehemently oppose.
“There’s absolutely no reason for rushing this,” he said in a speech in the Senate. “While I believe in hard infrastructure, I cannot participate in doing it this way.”
But some Republicans and Democrats were furious with him because, they said, his delays would cause them to lose their amendments and the bill would still be passed.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure. It will create good-paying, union jobs repairing our roads and bridges, replacing lead pipes, and building energy transmission lines. We can’t afford not to do it,” Biden said on Twitter.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure. It will create good-paying, union jobs repairing our roads and bridges, replacing lead pipes, and building energy transmission lines.
We can’t afford not to do it.
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 7, 2021
Republicans and Democrats were seen huddled around him on Saturday.
“Part of the conversation is senators saying to Hagerty, you realize that what you’re doing is making it impossible for me to get my amendment, because if you insist on the whole thing and you don’t compromise on timing, then nobody gets an amendment. And we pass the bill,” Democrat Sen. Chris Coons said to reporters.
“I just don’t think there’s enough pressure yet. … It takes a little while for people to stare at each other and feel a little about the pressure to come to an agreement on amendments,” Republican Sen. John Thune said.
He said that in order for Republicans to get the amendments they want the bill would have to move quickly, something that Sen. Hagerty has, thus far, not been willing to get on board with.
“The currency we have is time, and it’s going to be up to our members, obviously, whether they’re willing to do that, and then there has to also be an agreement on the universe [of] amendments that could be voted on,” he said.
But Hagerty disagreed with that notion, insisting that the amendments and an expedited process were not linked.
“What they’re asking for is an expedited process that has nothing to do with the amendments. I’m not against any of the amendments, not opposed to any of them. I’m not the one holding any of the amendments up. They’re free to start under normal order,” he said.
And other Republicans believe that passing the infrastructure bill is simply a way to get the Democrats the massive $3.5 trillion spending package they want.
“Most of us in this body have not had the opportunity to be at the table, and amendments that we have worked on that we felt like would have improved this bill are not going to be hard. Not here, not in committee,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn said.
“I’m for infrastructure projects, yes, indeed. Am I for this piece of legislation? No, because it’s a document that has misplaced priorities,” she said.
Donald Trump has railed against the bill and warned Republicans not to support it.
“Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill is a disgrace. If Mitch McConnell was smart, which we’ve seen no evidence of, he would use the debt ceiling card to negotiate a good infrastructure package,” he said.