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US senators continue working on infrastructure measure after failed vote

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday rejected a motion to begin debate on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, yet an affiliated coalition says it is “close to a final agreement” on related legislation.

Senators voted 51-49 along party lines to block further action, short of the 60 votes required for advancing most legislation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., switched his vote to “no” to allow the Senate to reconsider the vote at another time.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (Office of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin)

President Joe Biden and senators announced a $1.2 trillion bipartisan framework last month before the chamber began its state work period. The proposal includes $579 billion in new spending toward road and bridge projects, infrastructure resiliency, water systems and broadband improvements.

The bipartisan group of senators has continued discussions about spending and revenue generation. Republican coalition members have rejected IRS enforcement as one possible funding source.

“We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement,” the bipartisan group said. “We will continue working hard to ensure we get this critical legislation right — and are optimistic that we will finalize, and be prepared to advance, this historic bipartisan proposal to strengthen America’s infrastructure and create good-paying jobs in the coming days. We appreciate our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the administration, working with us to get this done for the American people.”

The group is comprised of 10 Republicans and 12 Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. He told reporters earlier this month the Senate has no excuses for not passing an infrastructure measure this year.

“We’ve been talking about doing an infrastructure bill for the last three or four administrations, and nothing has been done,” he said. “Deferred maintenance keeps piling up and piling up, and it’s time for us to basically rebuild America.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., led Republican senators in early negotiations with the White House. Capito on Wednesday stressed she will not support a bill until she can review legislative text.

“I have said time and time again that I cannot vote for something without knowing the policy behind it, the money it spends and how, and whether it is paid for,” she said. “Without an actual bill, I am unable to determine if the bill is in the best interest of West Virginia or whether this proposal will add more to the national debt to be repaid by future generations.”

According to Capito, the bipartisan group has committed to including a $35 billion measure on water infrastructure and a $311 billion surface transportation proposal in the final bill. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — which Capito serves on as ranking member — passed both proposals this year, and the full Senate approved the water infrastructure bill in April.

“While I genuinely want to see a bipartisan infrastructure package come together, Senator Schumer has made it clear that today’s theatrical vote has nothing to do with the policies needed to make these investments in a responsible way,” Capito added.

Capito has been critical of a separate $3.5 trillion proposal addressing multiple issues including paid family leave, Medicare expansion and efforts addressing climate change. Democrats will attempt to pass the broad measure through reconciliation with a 51-vote requirement; Vice President Kamala Harris would deliver a tie-breaking vote.

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