Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday vowed to kill a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and accused Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of 'playing games' by scheduling the vote.
‘Today that Democratic leader appears to be and count on calling a vote he knows will fail,' McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor. 'It will fail. Around here we typically write the bills before we vote on them. That is the custom.’
Republicans have complained they will not vote for a bill before it is written. The bipartisan group negotiating the measure - which funds traditional infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and water ways - is finalizing the details of the legislation and how it will be paid for.
'This stunt is set to fail,' McConnell said, asking 'so who's playing games.'
Schumer defended the procedural vote in his own speech on the Senate floor, noting it was the first step in the legislative process.
'This vote is not a deadline to have every final detail worked out. It is not an attempt to jam anyone,' he said, pointing out the bill can be amended as it moves through the legislative process.
'In order to finish the bill, first we need to start,' he added.
Without at least 10 Republican votes on board, the vote will fail. Republicans are pushing for more details of what is in the legislation.
'I think people basically have an objection to voting for something that they don't know what they're voting for,' Republican Senator Bill Cassidy said. 'There's something about having something to look at — a piece of paper with stuff written on it — that gives people comfort to support.'
The bipartisan group of senators negotiating the deal said they are close to an agreement and are pleading with Schumer to give them more time.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney, one of the negotiators, said the group is close to consensus but he is also one of the senators asking for a delay until Monday.
He said he thought '10 or 11 or 12 Republicans' would vote yes if the vote was next week, predicting all the details will be finalized by then.
Republican Senator Rob Portman, one of the lead negotiators, conceded there would not be a final product by the time senators head to the floor Wednesday afternoon to vote.
'It won't be done tonight,' Portman said late Tuesday evening, adding that they are 'not going to have a product ready' in time.
The bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers met Tuesday night in the Capitol - over tacos and wine from Surfside, Politico reported - to hammer out more of the final details.
'I really believe tomorrow it will be all done. We're so close,' Democratic Senator Jon Tester said.
But Republicans working in that group are pushing for the vote to be delayed to Monday.
'I still hope that he can be prevailed upon to delay the vote until Monday,' said Republican Senator Susan Collins of Schumer. 'There's absolutely no reason why he has to have the vote tomorrow, and it does not advance the ball. It does not achieve any goal except to alienate people.'
The White House, however, is backing Schumer's plan to hold a vote Wednesday afternoon.
'The president is very supportive of Sen. Schumer's plan to move forward today,' White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said on CNN's 'New Day' on Wednesday.
She pointed out this is not a vote on a 'final package so there is still plenty of opportunity for people to make amendments, and to make sure that the final details of the bill are lined up with the agreement that President Biden struck with a group of Republicans and Democrats when they were here at the White House in June.'
Schumer argues there can be a vote for a shell bill on Wednesday with the details filled in before the Senate takes a final vote on the legislation. He says voting on the shell bill can speed up the legislative process with a fuller infrastructure deal replacing it later.
The bipartisan group of senators negotiating the contents of the legislation have been working almost around the clock to figure out a compromise way to pay for it, having stuck down ideas such as boosting the gas tax drivers pay at the pump or strengthening the Internal Revenue Service to go after tax evaders.
The legislation contains almost $600 billion in new spending that needs to be funded.
Biden's infrastructure agenda has been split in two pieces: the first being the bipartisan bill with $1.2 trillion in funding for physical infrastructure projects like roads and bridges.
The second, which has no Republican support, is his $3.5 trillion 'human' infrastructure package of social programs, including free pre-K and community college, expanded paid family and medical leave, environmental programs and immigration reform.
Senate Democrats are weighing a Plan B if the bipartisan infrastructure bill fails. They would add the nearly $600 billion in spending Republicans have already accepted to their $3.5 trillion legislation, giving it an overall $4.1 trillion overall price tag, Axios reported.
But it's unclear if that would have support from moderate senators like Joe Manchin, who has already questioned the $3.5 trillion price tag.
Schumer also set a Wednesday deadline for Democrats to come to an agreement on their solo bill.
Senate Democrats will try and pass this measure without a single GOP vote, through a process called reconciliation which allows them to skip the usual 60 vote thresh hold to move legislation forward.
A top priority of President Biden's, the bill needs all 50 Senate Democrats on board in order to pass.