Schumer to Force Test Vote Wednesday on Infrastructure Plan

The majority leader’s announcement ratchets up pressure for Republicans and Democrats to finalize the details of the still-unfinished bipartisan infrastructure deal.

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Schumer says he will force a test vote as early as Wednesday on the infrastructure plan.

Senator Todd Young, left, and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, talked while walking through the Capitol on Wednesday.Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

July 15, 2021, 11:44 a.m. ET

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, announced on Thursday that he would force a test vote as early as Wednesday on the still-unfinished bipartisan infrastructure deal, ratcheting up pressure for Republicans and Democrats to seal their agreement.

In floor remarks Thursday morning, Mr. Schumer said he was also instructing Democrats to reach agreement by Wednesday on the details of a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint the Budget Committee is putting together. That blueprint will unlock use of the fast-track reconciliation process, which would allow Democrats to pass an expansive economic package without Republican votes.

For an institution that hardly ever moves unless it is facing a deadline, Mr. Schumer’s announcement that he would hold a procedural vote on the infrastructure measure within days amounted to an hardball effort to push lawmakers into quickly finishing their work.

“The time has come to make progress, and we will,” he said. Mr. Schumer has said he intends to hold votes on both the infrastructure bill and a budget plan before the Senate leaves for its monthlong summer recess, which is scheduled to begin in early August.

A group of 10 Republicans and Democrats who struck the infrastructure compromise with the White House has been toiling this week to translate their outline into legislative text that is ready for consideration on the Senate floor. They have been hung up on an array of thorny details, including how to pay for the plan.

Combined, the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the budget blueprint encompass President Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda, including both physical infrastructure and expansions of tax benefits, child care, education, health care and programs to address climate change. Both measures face steep hurdles in the narrowly divided and deeply polarized House and Senate.

The bipartisan group is set to convene on Thursday to continue wrestling over the details of how to structure and finance nearly $600 billion in new spending for roads, bridges, highways and broadband. They have set a self-imposed deadline to resolve most of their differences by the end of the day Thursday, and are still short of the support they would need to push the measure past the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster and take it up. Doing so would require the support of all 50 Democrats and independents aligned with them, and 10 Republicans.

At the same time, Democrats are working to iron out the details of the far more expansive $3.5 trillion budget blueprint they rolled out this week, which would require the support of every single member of their caucus to pass the 50-50 Senate — with a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris — and nearly every Democrat to pass the House.

Democratic leaders would then need to stay united in both chambers to muscle through a reconciliation bill to enact the plan, maneuvering through stringent budgetary rules and political crosscurrents in an arduous process that will likely stretch into the fall.

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