Schumer drops bomb on Senate with speedy infrastructure timeline

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) dropped a bomb on lawmakers Thursday morning when he outlined an ambitious timeline propelling the bipartisan infrastructure proposal toward floor action next week.

Why it matters: The senators involved have their work cut out for them. There’s still a lot of concern about how to pay for the $1 trillion bill, which is key to shoring up Republican support for the measure.

The group of 10 negotiators huddled for hours Thursday afternoon in a room on the first floor of the Capitol, working to resolve the remaining — and most controversial — sticking points.White House officials Steve Ricchetti, Brian Deese and Louisa Terrell joined them roughly an hour in, until they eventually broke and the senators flew home for the weekend.The group said it plans to continue negotiating throughout the weekend, with the goal of producing legislative text by the time the Senate returns on Monday.

What they’re saying: “The good news is is that we are all still talking. The bad news is we’ve got a pretty tight timeframe,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters.

Between the lines: Axios reported early Thursday that a prominent pay-for initially in the bipartisan framework — a $40 billion infusion to help the Internal Revenue Service with tax enforcement — is being re-thought.

Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) confirmed the group is now discussing potential alternatives to the IRS provision. If it’s nixed, it’s a huge nod to conservatives, many of whom have seen this as the most controversial aspect of a bipartisan bill.Sources familiar with the meeting say it may not be dropped in its entirety but peeled back.

Worth noting: Even if the group completes drafting the bill this weekend, it will take days for the Congressional Budget Office to score it — something multiple senators will need before ultimately weighing in.

It also will take time for the group to sell their colleagues on its key components.However, next week’s votes are, for now, just procedural — formally kicking off the process to pass the package.A final vote on the bill would not come until next Thursday at the earliest.

Why Schumer is doing this: The Senate leader wants to ramp up pressure on lawmakers to finalize their work, Axios has learned.

They’ve been negotiating for months, and time is running out if they want to meet their self-imposed deadline of passing it before August recess.Yet putting the bill on the floor before both sides are certain it will receive the necessary 60 votes to pass could be catastrophic for its chances.

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