After days of debate and votes on amendments, U.S. Senate lawmakers worked behind the scenes on Thursday to wrap up a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on which they largely agree so that they can move on to what is likely to be a partisan brawl over sweeping budget spending plan.
Democrats and Republicans sought consent from all 100 members of the Senate to advance with a vote to pass the infrastructure package late on Thursday as Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to delay the start of their five-week summer break into next week to consider the $3.5 trillion budget resolutions.
Everybody understands that this is the budget, and I don't think anybody's looking to extend this out any longer than necessary," Republican senator John Cornyn said to reporters.
The majority of the legislative Congressional Budget Office awaited a critical analysis of the infrastructure package, a comprehensive test that would show whether the bill is still on top of its drafters' promise not to add to Washington's budget deficits.
Negotiators on the bill, which would support construction projects ranging from new and bridge repairs to expanding broadband service, have argued that its $550 billion in traffic spending was in large part funded by moving money from existing programs.
Increased economic activity related to new construction jobs and business growth stemming from the investments were expected to spur government revenue collections, although maybe by not as much as lawmakers hope.
2 Republican refused to offer a prediction on when the final vote would come, saying, There are a lot of conversations about how we might wind this down.
Other lawmakers, including Senator Rob Portman, the lead Republican in infrastructure talks, said a Saturday conclusion seemed likely. He told reporters that lawmakers on each side of the political aisle were holding up final amendment votes.
2 Democrat, told reporters: The general notion is the sooner the better so we can get to the budget resolution and we don't have agreement yet.
The CBO report was expected to be released sometime on Thursday. If it concludes lawmakers have fallen short in crafting a deficit-neutral bill, it could prompt some Republican senators to oppose the legislation after showing support in two early procedural votes.
In early July, 17 independents joined 48 Republicans and two Democrats in voting to advance the bill.
Those 67 votes are comfortably more than 60 votes required to pass the legislation.
No more than seven Republicans could cite newfound fiscal concerns and abandon the legislation on a final vote for it to still have enough support to pass, assuming all 50 Democrats and independents stay on board.
Among the 17 conservatives that gave an early green light are fiscal conservatives like Charles Grassley, John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer.
Conversely, a good grade from the CBO could give Republicans who are campaigning in 2022 Senate elections against Democratic other big-ticket spending bills reason to argue that this infrastructure bill would bring long-needed repairs to public facilities without adding to the nation's $28.6 trillion debt.
If the $150 billion bill passes, the Democratic-controlled Senate will then turn its attention to ramming through the human infrastructure budget framework that Republicans oppose by using a special procedure temporarily scrapping the 60- vote threshold to advance bills.
It would finance more home healthcare and child care, along with climate change and immigration initiatives - programs President Joe Biden wants to fund in part with tax increases on the wealthy.