TR Daily Senate Stalls Infrastructure Bill; Wicker Urges ‘Regular Order’ on Broadband
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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Senate Stalls Infrastructure Bill; Wicker Urges ‘Regular Order’ on Broadband

The Senate today rejected Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D., N.Y.) motion for cloture on a House infrastructure bill (HR 3684) intended to serve as a placeholder for bipartisan Senate infrastructure legislation still in development, with the expectation that another vote will be held after the Senate language is finalized.

Under Senate rules, the cloture motion required 60 votes for passage, and in the final moments of the roll call, when it became clear the motion was going to fail on a party-line vote, Sen. Schumer switched his vote to nay so that he would have standing to later request reconsideration of the motion.

Under a general framework announced last month, the group of five Democrats and five Republicans working on the bipartisan bill plan to call for $65 billion for broadband deployment.

Sen. Schumer had said earlier this week that if the bipartisan group didn’t have language ready by tomorrow, he would insert language from several bipartisan infrastructure bills that have cleared their respective committees, but those bills do not include broadband funding (TR Daily, July 20). However, with the failure of the cloture motion today, there is no vehicle for Sen. Schumer to use to move forward on that plan.

Meanwhile, eight Republican members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, led by committee ranking member Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), urged Majority Leader Schumer "to work through regular order to advance broadband-related provisions in any bipartisan infrastructure legislation. While we appreciate the ongoing efforts by our colleagues to expand broadband access, advancing broadband legislative proposals through the committee of jurisdiction, with subject matter expertise, is critical to ensuring that resources are appropriately targeted to communities in need, and any new broadband programs are implemented with the proper oversight and avoid wasting taxpayer dollars."

The White House, which backs the bipartisan infrastructure framework—often referred to in Washington policy circles as BIF—continued its lobbying effort today by releasing a letter of support from a bipartisan group of former mayors and governors, as well as highlighting support from the governor of Vermont, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the Vermont Mayors Coalition, and the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition.

In a joint statement, National Governors Association (NGA) Chairman Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas, and NGA Vice Chairman Phil Murphy, governor of New Jersey, said, "On behalf of the National Governors Association, we are pleased that Senators of both parties have come to an agreement on a framework for funding critical infrastructure investments. We urge Congress to capitalize on this rare bipartisan agreement to deliver a transformative infrastructure bill to the American people."

They added, "Now more than ever it is critical for Senators on both sides of the aisle to iron out the details of the agreement and finalize legislative text. Governors encourage negotiators to consider NGA’s Principles for National Infrastructure Investment. These carefully selected, bipartisan priorities underscore the importance of the state-federal partnership when building and maintaining infrastructure." —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]

MainStory: FederalNews Congress BroadbandDeployment

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