In a 50-50 Senate where power is dispersed between the two parties and the ideological spectrum, simply setting the timetable is one of Schumer’s most valuable tools – and senators are keeping a close eye on how long they serve. five week vacation. about to be sacrificed to the infrastructure gods.
“Coming home is always a good motivator,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.), who supports the bipartisan bill. “People are going to get mad and fed up with each other. “
Still, the August schedule was mired in new uncertainty on Monday after bipartisan support for the bill, Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) tested positive for a groundbreaking Covid case after several days close to colleagues. Viral spread within the Senate could complicate anyone’s plans.
Even if they don’t, Republicans are warning Democrats not to assume that the 50-vote minority will simply speed up the process of amending the bill. Most Senate members had little influence over the bipartisan infrastructure deal Biden blessed, leading to pent-up demand for proposed changes.
“We have lost at least a week. And maybe two, ”said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), A member of the bipartisan bargaining group and a farmer whose crops have been ravaged by inclement weather this season, making it easier for him to stay in the country. the capital. “It just depends. [The calendar] could be our worst friend. We could lose our whole damn break. I am ready to stay here.
“He’s going to crush us, there’s no doubt about it,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) of Schumer. “I’ll take him at his word. It’s going to be unpleasant.”
Even though Biden’s agenda seemed on hold this spring and summer, the Senate maintained its usual languid schedule until the end of July: usually at 1:45 p.m.). Then came Schumer’s increasingly urgent warning about weekend and August work in Washington.
The New York Democrat also predicted a failed vote two weeks ago that appeared to start a fire under negotiators, then held the Senate down over the weekend to make sure the bill was finally done. Biparty talks seemed most in danger of collapsing over the past two months when the Senate was absent and lawmakers scattered across the country.
As the bill was finally unveiled on Sunday night, Schumer said he “tried to entice negotiators when they needed it, and gave them space when they asked for it.” Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) said Schumer pushed the bipartisan group of senators “a little faster” than they sometimes wanted, but it helped them move forward.
Monday marked the eighth consecutive day of the Senate session, already rivaling several streaks in 2020 devoted to passing massive aid packages to Covid and Republicans confirming Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. And the chamber is just beginning consideration of the infrastructure bill this week, with amendments yet to be made and an entire budget resolution still to be made.
It is important to note that there is no strict deadline for holding the Senate in session. The House calendar right now is a Majority Leader aware that time is running out for a unified Democratic government to pass its platform and for senators to appreciate time spent away from Washington – in addition to their colleagues – after a long period of work like this. .
Next weekend could also be a session to continue going through the Senate’s to-do list, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Said.
“The theory of the matter is that we are going to have a lively debate on the bill, opportunities for amendments. And there will come a time when we will come to our conclusion. This moment will be defined by Democrats and at least 10 Republicans, ”Durbin said, referring to the Senate’s 60-vote requirement to end debate on most laws.
The death last week of former Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) Is also a consideration. Enzi’s funeral takes place on Friday in his home country; the Senate could return this weekend and resume its work if it has to take leave on Friday.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill is 2,702 pages long, and legislation of this complexity would typically take several weeks in the Senate. The budget resolution normally takes a good part of a week to pass, with 50 hours of debate and the possibility of proposing unlimited amendments.
“They are going to have to allow a good amount of time just for people to digest the [bipartisan infrastructure] bill and prepare amendments to propose and hopefully get votes. That will take time. I don’t see how it ends at the end of the week, ”said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.). Still, he conceded that the senators would get fed up with each other “probably soon enough”.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said there should not be an “artificial timetable” used by Democrats to complete the bill and limit consideration of amendments. McConnell has supported bipartisan legislation, but as GOP leader, channels demands within his conference to have enough time for amendments.
With a chore of amendments in his way on Monday afternoon, Schumer issued a simple but effective warning that senators should not take too long to fight: “The longer it will take to complete the bill.” , he said, “plus us here.”