- Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to oppose an infrastructure deal they struck with Biden.
- They said they wouldn't vote for an unfinished bill – but they'll be prepared to do that on Monday.
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn't thrown his backing behind the measure yet.
Senate Republicans voted against advancing the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal on Wednesday in an early vote. But a key faction called for more time and said they can support the same agreement in four days.
Republicans lined up to oppose the blueprint in a 49-51 vote on Wednesday afternoon. The measure fell short of the 60 votes needed to clear the chamber.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he went from a "yes" to a "no" only so he could bring up the measure again for another vote under Senate rules.
Still, Republican negotiators including Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah expressed confidence about supporting their plan on Monday once details on how to pay for it were ironed out.
The agreement contains $579 billion in fresh spending beyond what Congress has already approved focused on roads, bridges, and upgrading broadband connections. All five Republican negotiators voted against kicking off debate on the agreement they had struck with President Joe Biden last month.
It comes days after the bipartisan group jettisoned $40 billion in extra IRS funding in the bipartisan deal, as it had triggered a backlash among conservatives alarmed about the possibility of overreach by the agency.
The GOP maneuver represents a stark contrast with their Obamacare repeal efforts in 2017. At the time, most Senate Republicans voted to advance an incomplete "skinny repeal" blueprint of the Affordable Care Act, a major Republican priority. But the late Sen. John McCain ultimately cast the pivotal vote that torpedoed that effort, with an infamous thumbs-down vote.
Romney told reporters before the vote that it'll be some time before a full infrastructure bill is drafted. "We won't have a complete text, that's going to take quite a while," he said. "We'll have elements that are written but many that are not."
He said the bipartisan group is aiming to be fully agreed upon "the major issues" by Monday. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a Democrat in the talks, told reporters the group would continue fleshing out the deal by phone on Wednesday evening.
The bipartisan group put out a statement shortly after the Wednesday afternoon vote. "We have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement," the senators said, adding they want to broker a deal "in the coming days."
Progressives are losing patience with the slow pace of bipartisan talks. Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have argued for several weeks that the GOP has been given plenty of time to come onboard and warn that Republicans are attempting to only delay Democratic efforts.
"Democrats have kept the door open to Republicans for months now on infrastructure," Warren told Insider on Tuesday. "Republicans cannot be allowed to delay progress any longer. I hope Republicans will be part of this, they've been given every accommodation, but it's time to move."