Early Light

By Ryan Clancy |  July 21, 2021

BIF at First You Don’t Succeed…

At 2:30 p.m. today, the Senate is all but certain to reject a test vote on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. The measure will require 60 votes to advance, and it may not even get 50.

But that does not mean the BIF is dead. In fact, prospects look somewhat brighter this morning than they did at the start of the week.

Though Senate Majority Leader Schumer is carrying through with his plan to force the vote today — even though the BIF has yet to be fully turned into legislative language — the 10 senators crafting the bill say they are very close to finishing their work and answering the toughest question of all: How do we pay for this? That means Schumer could call another vote as soon as next week, when the finished bill — and the 60 votes — may be in hand.

But even that is no sure thing, and BIF supporters will need to keep the pressure on Schumer and their senators to keep things moving.

The Hill says Schumer “will need to make a decision about what to do after the failed vote,” and “is facing pressure” from all sides. As the AP puts it, the BIF “is hanging precariously” ahead of today’s vote, and according to CNN, “negotiations will intensify over the next few days with the goal of trying again to advance the measure by early next week.”

Punchbowl says there is “no firm sense when a compromise would come together — but it does, in fact, seem to be close.” Schumer has managed to keep the five Democratic negotiators — Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA) — on board for today’s vote. Manchin said Tuesday, “We’re getting close, gang. We’re not that far apart.” Tester told reporters, “I really believe tomorrow, it will be done. We are so close.”

USA Today says the odds of the BIF getting to 60 votes today “appear grim as Senate Republican negotiators said they wouldn’t vote to debate the measure because the details haven’t been finalized.” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said, “We can’t support cloture for something we haven’t accomplished yet. We haven’t come to agreement on key issues.” Said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME): “There’s absolutely no reason why [Schumer] has to have the vote” on Wednesday. “It does not advance the ball. It does not achieve any goal except to alienate people.”

So what’s Schumer up to? Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), one of the 10 negotiators, says Schumer may be “sabotaging” the BIF: “[Schumer] wants this vote to fail because he really wants to go the partisan route; namely, the big, ugly, multitrillion-dollar spending spree that Bernie Sanders and others have been advocating.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) takes a more sanguine view, saying he doesn’t think Schumer’s motives are “malevolent.”

As for the big reconciliation bill moving in parallel, a WSJ editorial says that bill “will be built on phony assumptions and gimmicks” and could ultimately cost more than $5 trillion. A NYT analysis suggests President Biden is “enacting big spending initiatives under the auspices of pandemic relief and infrastructure” in an attempt “to skirt an ideologically divisive fight.”Yesterday, @SenSchumer teed up the first vote on an infrastructure bill no one has seen yet. That doesn't sound like a recipe for success.

If the BIF does get through the Senate — tied to the $3,500,000,000,000 spending bill or not — perils await in the House. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who chairs the Transportation Committee, says he would tank the BIF unless it is changed significantly to be more “transformative” in making more investments in public transit and to combat climate change. Politico says the White House is working to assuage the concerns of progressives who want more. Speaker Pelosi “is telling her members to hold tight for now, reflecting a cautious degree of trust” in Schumer.


·       In the wake of several high-profile cyberattacks on the U.S., a bipartisan group of senators including Portman and Sinema have introduced legislation that would staff up the new Office of the National Cyber Director.

·       CBS reports Vice President Harris “says she is speaking with Republican senators on a key piece of voting legislation.”

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