Senate Democrats fell short in their efforts to begin debate Wednesday on a bill that would act as the vehicle for President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure package, but a broad group of senators said they “are close to a final agreement.”

Sixty votes were needed to take up the measure, but just 49 senators approved moving forward on Wednesday.

The vote on the roughly $1 trillion package, which includes about half that in new spending, came nearly a month after Biden appeared outside the White House with a bipartisan group of senators to announce an agreement on a framework for an infrastructure plan. The measure is targeted at traditional infrastructure investments such as roads, bridges, water systems and an expansion of broadband internet.

Despite bipartisan buy-in, finalizing the legislative text, and in particular how the plan would be paid for, has presented roadblocks. Republicans have repeatedly said they can’t support voting to advance a bill that isn’t yet fully written.

“I think we need to see the bill before we decide whether or not to vote for it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Capitol Hill reporters on Monday.

But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted Wednesday’s vote did not represent a “fish or cut bait moment” and was not an “attempt to jam anyone.”

“A ‘yes’ vote [Wednesday] is simply that the Senate is ready to begin debating a bipartisan infrastructure bill,” he said Tuesday during a Senate Democratic leadership news conference. “No more, no less. We’ve waited a month – it’s time to move forward.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who is part of that bipartisan group, said the deadline didn’t give the … (Read more)