Schumer weaponizes August recess to advance Biden agenda

In a 50-50 Senate the place energy is dispersed throughout each events and the ideological spectrum, the easy act of setting the schedule is certainly one of Schumer’s most precious instruments — and senators are retaining a detailed eye on how a lot of their five-week recess is about to be sacrificed to the infrastructure gods.

“Getting home is always a good motivator,” mentioned Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who helps the bipartisan invoice. “People are going to get irritated and sick of each other.”

Still, the August schedule was mired in new uncertainty on Monday after bipartisan invoice backer Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) examined optimistic for a breakthrough case of Covid following a number of days shut to his colleagues. Viral unfold throughout the Senate may complicate everybody’s plans.

Even if they do not, Republicans are warning Democrats not to assume the 50-vote minority will merely fast-forward by way of the modification course of on the invoice. Most members of the Senate have had little affect on the bipartisan infrastructure settlement Biden has blessed, main to pent-up demand for proposed modifications.

“We’ve lost at least a week. And maybe two,” mentioned Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a member of the bipartisan negotiating group and a farmer whose crops have been ravaged by climate this season, making it simpler for him to stay within the capital. “It just depends. [The calendar] could be our worst friend. We could lose our whole damn break. I’m prepared to stay here.”

“He’s going to grind us down, there’s no query about it,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) of Schumer. “I take him at his phrase. It’s going to be disagreeable.”

Even as Biden’s agenda appeared to grasp within the stability this spring and summer time, the Senate stored up its typical languid schedule proper up till late July: Like clockwork, the chamber got here in late Monday afternoon, and most members flew out on early Thursday afternoon (often proper at 1:45 p.m.). Then got here Schumer’s more and more pressing warning of weekend work and August in D.C.

The New York Democrat additionally scheduled a failed vote two weeks in the past that appeared to mild a fireplace below negotiators, then stored the Senate in over the weekend to make sure the invoice was lastly completed. The bipartisan talks appeared most in peril of collapsing over the previous two months when the Senate was out and lawmakers had been scattered throughout the nation.

As the invoice was lastly unveiled late Sunday, Schumer mentioned he “tried to prod the negotiators along when they’ve needed it, and given them the space when they’ve asked for it.” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) mentioned Schumer pushed the bipartisan group of senators a “little bit faster” than they needed typically, nevertheless it helped spur them alongside.

Monday marked the eighth consecutive day the Senate had been in session, already rivaling a number of 2020 streaks devoted to passing huge Covid assist packages and Republicans confirming Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. And the chamber is just starting consideration of the infrastructure invoice this week, with amendments nonetheless to get by way of and a complete funds decision nonetheless to go.

Importantly, there isn’t any exhausting deadline holding the Senate in session. What runs the chamber’s calendar in the intervening time is a majority chief conscious that point is operating brief for a unified Democratic authorities to go its agenda and that senators worth time away from Washington — as well as to their colleagues — after a protracted work interval like this one.

Next weekend is also spent in session to proceed grinding by way of the Senate’s to-do listing, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) mentioned.

“The theory of the case is, we’re going to have a lively debate about the bill, opportunities for amendments. And there will come a time when we have reached our conclusion. That time will be defined by the Democrats and at least 10 Republicans,” Durbin mentioned, referring to the Senate’s 60-vote requirement for ending debate on most laws.

The loss of life final week of former Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) can also be a consideration. Enzi’s funeral is on Friday in his residence state; the Senate may come again this weekend and resume its work if it has to take Friday off.

The bipartisan infrastructure invoice clocks in at 2,702 pages, and laws of that complexity would usually take a number of weeks on the Senate flooring. The funds decision usually takes the higher a part of every week to go, with 50 hours of debate and the likelihood to provide limitless amendments.

“They’re going to have to allow a good amount of time just for people to digest the [bipartisan infrastructure] bill and prepare amendments to offer and, hopefully, get votes. It’s going to take a while. I don’t see any way this winds down at the end of the week,” mentioned Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). Still, he conceded that senators will get sick of one another “probably pretty fast.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell mentioned there needs to be no “artificial timetable” employed by Democrats to end the invoice and restrict modification consideration. McConnell has supported the bipartisan laws, however as GOP chief, is channeling the calls for inside his convention to have ample time for amendments.

With an modification slog in his manner on Monday afternoon, Schumer supplied a easy but efficient warning that senators should not take too lengthy to combat: “The longer it takes to finish the bill,” he said, “the longer we’ll be here.”

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