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Why Republicans don't really need 'more time' on infrastructure

Republicans say they need "a little bit more time" before a bipartisan infrastructure package advances. It's a tough line to take seriously.

A couple of weeks ago, the public first learned of a video in which Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex) told allies about his party's legislative perspective. The Texas Republican said it's the "job" of GOP lawmakers to slow down the Democratic majority's agenda -- on infrastructure, among other things -- until next year's midterm elections.

Roy added that Republicans would benefit from "18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done."

The quote kept coming to mind yesterday, as Senate Republicans, after already agreeing to a bipartisan framework on an immigration deal, said they don't want to move forward with a procedural vote tomorrow. Rather, as the Washington Post reported, GOP senators want to slow things down and take more time.

With the package still in flux, the deadline greatly troubled Republicans, some of whom blasted Democrats for rushing already fragile negotiations. "Unless Senator Schumer doesn't want this to happen, you need a little bit more time to get it right," Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) stressed during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) added yesterday that she, too, is concerned that Democratic leaders are trying to rush the process.

For those keeping track of the calendar, President Joe Biden began bipartisan infrastructure negotiations in February. It's also been four weeks since the White House and a bipartisan group of lawmakers shook hands and reached an agreement on how best to proceed.

With this in mind, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) scheduled a procedural vote for tomorrow -- not on final passage of a compete piece of legislation, but to move the debate to the next stage.

The New York Democrat explained as much yesterday, saying he would use "a shell bill" as the final proposal takes shape, which in turn will allow members to advance the process.

He said the motion Wednesday would allow him to move quickly to swap in the official bill that the group of five Democratic and five Republican senators are working on as "the first substitute amendment" Thursday. If it's not done by then, "I will offer an amendment that consists only of the elements of the bill that have gone through committee with substantial bipartisan support," he said.

As of late yesterday, Senate Republicans were nevertheless insisting that they're prepared to derail tomorrow's vote. The measure will need 60 votes to advance, and one GOP leader said there's "no chance" that 10 Republican senators are prepared to go along with the Democrats' timeline.

Around the same time, the president delivered brief remarks about the economy, and said, "[W]e should be united on one thing: passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which we shook hands on. We shook hands on it."

The implication of Biden's comments was that he expects Republicans to follow through on their commitments to the bipartisan deal. That now appears unlikely.