Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session

The Senate is poised to hold a rare Sunday session as a bipartisan group of lawmakers try to finish up the text of their infrastructure bill.

The bipartisan group had hoped to unveil legislation on Saturday, and the Senate convened at 11 a.m. and sat on standby for more than 10 hours as behind-the-scenes negotiations continued.

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced late Saturday night that the bill won’t be ready until Sunday. The Senate is set to reconvene at noon.

“The bipartisan group of senators has still not finalized the legislative text of their substitute amendment. The staffs are still working and say they will have the final legislative text ready tomorrow,” Schumer said.

The slip into Sunday is the latest delay for the bipartisan legislation, with negotiators meeting around-the-clock to try to finalize their deal.

The group joined President Biden at the White House more than a month ago to announce that they had a deal on a framework for $1.2 trillion over eight years.

But they struggled for weeks to try to hash out the details and how to pay for the legislation, which includes $550 billion in new spending, a perennial sticking point.

They then announced on Wednesday that they had a deal on the “major issues,” and Senate Democrats, with the support of 17 Senate Republicans, have helped advance the bill over two initial hurdles.

Senators are feeling bullish about the chances that the bill passes as soon as at the end of next week. It’s a u-turn from Monday when the talks appeared on the brink of collapse. In addition, an 11th-hour scuffle on Friday delayed a vote to formally start debate after Republicans sounded the alarm over a draft that was circulating around Capitol Hill and with lobbyists that didn’t accurately reflect the group’s agreements.

Even after Wednesday’s announcement, talks continued on a host of final sticking points including broadband and transit, and the parts of the text were still being drafted on Saturday. The bill is expected to be massive, with drafts coming in around roughly 2,500 pages.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the bipartisan group, said on Saturday that they were still finishing up the “last couple pieces of legislative language.”

“I hope that we will get that finished as soon as possible so we can get this bill on the floor, have amendments, have a debate,” he added.

Warner and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont,), who are four out of the five core Democratic negotiators, were spotted huddling around the Capitol and meeting with Schumer on Saturday.

The Senate had hoped to start voting on potential changes to the bill on Sunday. No votes have currently been scheduled, but senators had previously warned that if the release of the legislative text slipped past Saturday that could potentially push the first votes into Monday.

The push to unveil the bipartisan bill comes as Schumer has pledged that he will hold a vote on the legislation before the Senate leaves for a week-long summer break. He also plans to hold a vote before the break on a budget resolution that includes the directions for drafting a separate $3.5 trillion bill that Democrats can pass without GOP support.

That break had been scheduled to start on Aug. 9, but the Senate is expected to lose the first week of its summer recess.

“As a reminder, upon completion of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Senate will turn to the budget resolution with reconciliation instructions,” Schumer said on Saturday night.

Via The Hill

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