In interviews on Thursday, Democratic senators said they expected all 50 members of their caucus to sign the final product, confident that their $ 3.5 trillion social spending proposal will include their top priorities. The bipartisan group has yet to piss off some Democrats who are angry about water funding, but the party seems content to step down the straights of the infrastructure drama united – leaving Republicans split over whether to support it.
“A lot of things happen that I am unhappy about. I think these are mistakes, ”said Cardin (D-Md.). “But I will support the package. I think it is vital that we finalize the bipartisan package. “
Even Democratic senators, skeptical of GOP cooperation, said they were hopeful that a bipartisan physical infrastructure deal would come to fruition as Biden has thrown the weight of the White House behind him and is already touring the country for the Promote framework. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who previously led the bipartisan talks, said she was “optimistic” these days and “ready to support it because … Joe Biden supports it”.
“We knock on an open door because the leadership is there and the president is there too,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Who criticized the pace and scope of negotiations with the Republicans. “The stars are pretty well aligned as long as the Republicans drop their obstacle. They seem to be looking for every excuse to make these efforts fail. “
Biden can take at most a handful of 50-member Democratic votes to pass the $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan physical infrastructure package if an agreement is reached. While 11 Senate Republicans wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday saying they would continue next week, most members of the GOP conference are waiting for the bill and an assessment of the bipartisan budget bureau Congress before their heads.
Even some Republicans in the bipartisan group of 22 working on the package could eventually run away, according to a GOP senator.
Senate negotiators say they are on the verge of reaching a bipartisan deal despite Wednesday’s failed vote. The most controversial sticking point seems to be the level of funding for public transport. However, the group is finalizing provisions regarding broadband and using unspent coronavirus aid funds as a funding mechanism, according to advisors familiar with the talks.
Republicans have suggested that Democrats are divided and may not be able to cast enough votes for the bipartisan deal as the separate $ 3.5 trillion proposal is still unfinished. But Schumer has calculated that the moderates in his group will not go along with the social spending plan without bipartisan efforts.
“What I hear is that Dems could lose 10 to 15 of their progressives,” said Senate minority whip John Thune (RS.D.). “Hopefully they’ll be able to get more votes.”
On Thursday afternoon, some Democratic senators said they had concerns about what had been heard, but there was no evidence of a mass rebellion. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said if his water legislation was not “fully funded” he would find it “very difficult” to vote for the bipartisan deal. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) Reiterated his concern, but her colleagues believe it is unlikely that they will end up opposing a bipartisan product that supports Biden.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the government understands that some lawmakers “want to hear their voices” and “have questions to ask” during the “messy legislative process”.
“We work with a number of members, including Senator Carper of course, and of course we work closely with the Senate leadership,” said Psaki, referring to the Delaware Senator’s tepid support for the bipartisan framework.
Schumer has not yet indicated when he will bring another vote on the bipartisan package, but senators on both sides of the aisle are expecting it to take place next week. And Schumer reiterated on Thursday that he plans to pass the bipartisan bill before the Senate goes on break in August.
Meanwhile, the White House released a presentation Thursday summarizing the Democrats’ proposals for social spending to counter the GOP’s attacks on rising inflation. It’s a sign that the White House has heard murmurs from Democratic lawmakers wanting a coherent argument as they put both the bipartisan agreement and reconciliation proposals before voters and work to get them passed.
“We wanted to give people an organized, cohesive theory of the case of how these pieces fit together to tell a cohesive story,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said on a call with reporters Thursday. “And really empower them.”
If there is a contingent of Democrats threatening the bill, it is likely in the House of Representatives, where several members have complained about being excluded from Senate-dominated bipartisan discussions. But in a pivotal week in which the Senate can finally pass judgment on three months of cross-aisle talks, Democrats are confident that their members will be there by the end.
“Much of this bill is made up of things that committees have already passed. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, ”said Warren (D-Mass.). “If it makes some people happier that part of the infrastructure bill is bipartisan so we can move forward, that’s fine.”