Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Moving Forward To Get Something Done On Infrastructure Legislation And Wednesday’s Vote On Cloture On The Motion To Proceed To The Legislative Vehicle For The Bipartisan Infrastructure FrameworkJuly 20, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding steps being taken this week to advance infrastructure legislation. Senator Schumer reiterated that he would offer the text of the bipartisan group’s agreement as the substitute amendment for consideration by the full Senate and urged senators to support the motion to proceed in order to start the process of beginning debate. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
For decades, both parties have shared a desire to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. It’s one of the few issues here in Washington where our two parties can consistently work together. And it’s been years since Congress passed a significant, stand-alone investment. We’re hoping to change that this year.
Nearly a month ago, a month ago, a bipartisan group of Senators came together, along with the White House, and agreed on a framework for a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
So, last night, I moved to set up a process for the Senate to consider that bipartisan framework.
On Wednesday, the Senate will take the first procedural vote on a shell bill—merely a vehicle to get the whole process started.
It is not a final deadline for legislative text. It is not a cynical ploy. It is not a fish-or-cut-bait moment. It is not an attempt to jam anyone.
It is only a signal that the Senate is ready to get the process started – something the Senate has routinely done on other bipartisan bills this year.
All a yes vote on the motion to proceed means is simply that the Senate is ready to begin debating a bipartisan infrastructure bill. No more, no less. We’ve waited a month. It’s time to move forward.
My colleagues have heard me speak for months about making progress on two different tracks of infrastructure. After the group of Senators reached a deal with the White House, I endorsed it, and I announced that I wanted to put their agreement on the floor of the Senate in July.
This week’s vote is an honest attempt to get something done. To get the ball rolling on the Senate floor. That’s why I am giving the maximum amount of flexibility to our Senate colleagues who are negotiating this bill.
If the bipartisan group can finalize the text of their agreement by Thursday, I will offer it as the pending substitute amendment.
If, for whatever reason, the bipartisan group isn’t ready with their final text by Thursday, I will offer an amendment consisting only of the bipartisan infrastructure bills that have already gone through our Senate committees and are actually the core of the bipartisan infrastructure framework.
They are the water bill, the highway bill, the rail and safety bill, and the energy bill. All of them are bipartisan. All of them have gone through committee. And all of them received overwhelming Republican votes.
Why wouldn’t our Republican colleagues want to move to proceed to debate that bill, at the very minimum, even if we don’t have agreement on the broader, bipartisan bill?
Just to go over the record: the Environment and Public Works Committee reported the water bill passed by voice vote, unanimous in committee, and then 89-2 on the Senate floor.
The Environmental and Public Works Committee report of the highway bill passed by 20-0.
The Commerce Committee report of the rail and safety bill passed by 25-3.
And the Energy and Natural Resources Committee report of the energy bill passed 13-7.
The bills I mentioned are the lowest common denominator and the most agreeable starting point—a package of bipartisan bills that nearly all the Senators have already supported this year. A package of bills that the bipartisan group is using as the basis of their framework.
And once it is on the floor, we can then debate, amend, and work from there. It is not the final word. There will be, no doubt, many Senators would want to offer additional items from the bipartisan framework or other issues – from transit, to broadband, to resiliency and more. And, of course, if the bipartisan group finalizes their product over the weekend, Senators can offer it as an amendment at that point. And I will make sure that their amendment is in order.
Let me repeat: even if the text of the bipartisan framework isn’t ready by Thursday, and we agree to make the package of bipartisan bills that I mentioned the starting point, Senators can still work on the bipartisan framework and offer it as an amendment later on.
The bottom line is very simple: if Senators agree to start debate, there will be many, many opportunities for the bipartisan group to make their agreement the base of the bill.
But if Republican Senators refuse to start debate, they would be denying the Senate an opportunity to consider the bipartisan amendment.
And this is not a new process. We’ve used it regularly here in the Senate. On the Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, on both of those, the Senate agreed to start debate just to proceed on a base bill, a shell bill. It took several weeks of amendments before everyone was ready to move forward. Eventually, and successfully, both measures passed with significant bipartisan support.
If we did it there—on the Anti-Asian Hate Bill, on the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act—we can do it here. There’s no reason we can’t do that here with infrastructure.
Look, Senators of good will on both sides want to finish the bipartisan infrastructure bill before the August recess. That’s certainly my goal. But in order to finish the bill, we first need to agree to start.
Let me repeat that: in order to finish the bill, we first need to agree to start. That’s the first step. Let’s all agree to start. That’s what this week’s vote is about and I hope that my Republican colleagues will join us in beginning debate.