The Senate may vote to advance a bipartisan infrastructure package as early as Wednesday evening, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, after negotiators resolving major outstanding issues on the roughly $1.2 trillion deal.
"With respect to infrastructure, senators continue to make good progress on both tracks of legislation," the New York Democrat said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. "Members should be prepared to vote again on cloture on the motion to proceed to the bipartisan infrastructure bill as early as tonight."
The bipartisan package includes about $579 billion in new spending on traditional infrastructure projects. But for weeks, the two sides remain fiercely divided over how much funding should go to public transit, highways, bridges, water and broadband and whether to use unspent COVID-19 relief money to help pay for the bill.
Although senators hoped to finish negotiations by Monday, the talks appeared to be in danger of collapsing when the 22-member group concluded weekend talks with major roadblocks still remaining.
But Sen. Rob Portman, the lead GOP negotiator, announced Wednesday following a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that lawmakers have an "agreement on the major issues." While the legislative text is still being finalized, Portman, R-Ohio, said it will be prepared for a procedural vote tonight.
In order to advance the measure, lawmakers need to secure at least 60 votes, meaning that 10 Republicans would have to join all Democrats to begin the debate.
"I think that there is a strong solid number of folks on both sides of the aisle that want to get onto an infrastructure package," Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala., told reporters Wednesday.
Schumer has said that he wants to pass the bipartisan package, as well as the blueprint for a $3.5 trillion budget plan that Democrats will pass using budget reconciliation before the Senate leaves for its five-week August recess. Schumer held a procedural vote last week to begin debate on the unfinished proposal, but all 50 Republicans voted against it, saying they needed to see the finalized legislation first.
For months, President Biden has pushed for a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure, but has insisted he wants to follow it with a sweeping, multitrillion-dollar package that would make up the basis of his "Build Back Better" economic agenda.
Republicans have criticized the more expensive plan amid a recent burst of inflation, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi has maintained that the House will not vote on the bipartisan deal until the Senate also the larger bill – which includes funding for universal preschool, free community college, Medicare expansion and combating climate change – using budget reconciliation.
"We are here to get the job done. We cannot respond to some of the legislation until the Senate acts," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters last week during her weekly press conference. "We will not take up the infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the reconciliation measure."
By tethering the bipartisan bill to the reconciliation package, Pelosi is trying to ensure that progressive members of her caucus rally around both measures. Because Democrats have an unusually narrow advantage in the House (Pelosi has just three votes to spare), it's possible that left-leaning lawmakers could torpedo the bipartisan deal.
Fox News' Kelly Phares contributed to this report