Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Making Progress On Infrastructure Legislation And Filing Cloture On The Motion To Proceed To The Legislative Vehicle For The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

July 19, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding progress being made on infrastructure legislation on two tracks. Senator Schumer also explained that he will be filing cloture on the motion to proceed to a legislative vehicle for the future bipartisan infrastructure framework, which would set up a cloture vote on the motion to proceed on Wednesday. Senator Schumer announced that if the bipartisan group reaches an agreement on legislative text, he will make that agreement the pending substitute amendment for debate once the motion to proceed is adopted.  Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

For the past several months, both Democrats and Republicans have been hard at work putting together two major infrastructure bills to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

We have proceeded along two tracks. The first track is a bipartisan infrastructure framework that has been agreed to by a group of Democrat and Republican Senators and the White House. The second track is a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions that will allow the Senate to take up the American Jobs and Families Plan and make historic investments in jobs, family-support policies, and initiatives to fight climate change.

This week, the Senate aims to make even more progress on these tracks.

Tonight, in a few minutes, I will file cloture on a shell bill, which will act as a legislative vehicle for the bipartisan infrastructure framework. That vote on cloture will take place on Wednesday. Again, that vote on Wednesday will be a vote on cloture, simply on the motion to proceed to a debate on a bipartisan infrastructure package.

I want to be clear about what these steps mean. There has been some confusion. What we are talking about this week is a vote on whether to proceed to debate on the bipartisan infrastructure framework. The motion to proceed on Wednesday is simply about getting the legislative process started here on the Senate floor. It is not a deadline to determine every final detail of the bill.

All that a yes vote on the motion to proceed simply means is that the Senate is ready to begin debating and amending a bipartisan infrastructure bill. No more, no less.

It is important to remember that even after the Wednesday cloture vote, there are up to 30 hours of debate before we can adopt the motion to proceed and offer amendments. 

So let me be very clear about what I am committing to the Senate as Majority Leader: if the bipartisan group of Senators reach a final agreement on legislative text by Thursday, I will make that agreement the pending Substitute Amendment for debate, once the Motion to Proceed is adopted.

If, for some reason, the group does not finalize the legislative text of the agreement in time for Thursday, then I will offer an amendment consisting only of the elements of the bill that have already been put through Committee on a bipartisan process.

This will allow the Senate to begin debate and amendments on the bipartisan base bill, which has four main components:

•             The Environment and Public Works Committee report of the Water bill. This bill passed by voice vote in Committee and then 89-2 on the Senate floor;

•             Second, the Environment and Public Works Committee report of the Highway bill. This passed by 20-0;

•             The Commerce Committee report on the Rail and Safety bill.  This bill passed by 25-3;

•             The Energy and Natural Resources Committee report of the Energy bill. This passed 13-7.

Again: if the text of the bipartisan deal is ready on Thursday, I will offer it as the first substitute amendment. If, for some reason it’s not, I will offer an amendment that consists only of the elements of the bill that have gone through Committee with substantial bipartisan support, the four pieces that I mentioned just a second ago.

Now, I have spoken with the five leading Democratic negotiators, Senators Sinema and Warner and Tester and Shaheen and Manchin. They support this approach.

I would remind my colleagues: moving to proceed to a legislative vehicle—a shell bill—for bipartisan legislation, even while the negotiators finalize the text of that legislation, is a routine process in this chamber. We’ve done it repeatedly. It’s a sign of good faith from both sides that negotiations will continue in earnest, and that both sides are committed to reaching an outcome. 

Earlier this year, the Senate moved forward on a legislative vehicle for what became the COVID-19 Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Act. In fact, we went through the same process when the Senate moved to proceed to the legislative vehicle for what ultimately became the United States Innovation and Competition Act.

In that legislation, our Senate committees were working on various bills that all had to do with American innovation and competition. The Commerce Committee reported out the Endless Frontier Act. The Foreign Relations Committee reported out the Strategic Competition Act. And the Homeland Security Committee reported out additional pieces of legislation. We put them all together once we voted to proceed to a debate on the topic.

The same thing—the very same thing—is happening on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

I understand that both sides are working very hard to turn the bipartisan infrastructure framework into final legislation, and they will continue to have more time to debate, amend, and perfect the bill once the Senate votes to take up this crucial issue. But they have been working on this bipartisan framework for more than a month already and it’s time to begin the debate.

We must make significant progress on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget resolution before the end of the work period. There is no reason we can’t get the ball rolling this week on both elements of the Senate’s infrastructure agenda.