Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said Sunday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was calling for a cloture vote on a bill that wasn’t finished.
Portman spoke with CNN anchor Dana Bash on “State of the Union” about continued negotiations on infrastructure, and he argued that Schumer’s Wednesday deadline for a cloture vote was “arbitrary.” (RELATED: ‘Wildly Out Of Proportion’ — McConnell Rips Democrats $3.5 Trillion Deal On Infrastructure Package)
“You say that Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, is trying to give an arbitrary deadline,” Bash began, arguing that Schumer was only calling for the Senate to begin debating. “He’s not saying let’s have a final vote on a bill. So what’s wrong with that?”
“Start debate on what? We don’t have a product yet. We won’t have a product until we can finish negotiations,” Portman said, arguing that Schumer was attempting to push forward without first allowing the committees to do their work.
“We want to get it right. It’s not too much to ask that we have the time to do that. Again, I was on with the White House last night, negotiating the final details,” Portman concluded. “It’s important to get it done because, you know, it’s an urgent matter. We ought not to have an arbitrary deadline forcing this process. We ought to be sure that we’re doing it in a way that ends up with the best product.”
Republican Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy made a similar argument to anchor Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” saying that Schumer was attempting to skip over the negotiation process in order to vote away the possibility of a filibuster.
“How can I vote for cloture when the bill isn’t written?” Cassidy asked. “Unless you want program failure, unless Senator Schumer doesn’t want this to happen, you need a little bit more time to get it right.”
Cassidy went on to say that if Senate leadership and the White House worked together, he believed they could get to an agreement — they just needed more time and some cooperation from Democrats.
“I just don’t know how you have a cloture vote when you don’t have the bill written,” Cassidy continued, saying that Schumer was asking Republicans to vote on things that Democrats had not cooperated on. “I have to kind of get my mind around how do we vote on something which not yet written as we try and get it right. We can get it done but if they refuse to cooperate on the pay-fors, it’s not going to pass. They know that, and so again, how do pass — how do you vote for cloture on something that is not yet ready? I just don’t know how to answer that question, Chris.”
Cassidy concluded that if Democrats cooperated, the bill could potentially be ready for a vote by Schumer’s deadline — but he did not see how Republicans would be prepared to vote without first finishing negotiations on how to pay for it.