GOP senator upset Pelosi hasn't started House debate on jobs bill he stalled


Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) suggested on July 21 that a deal would be done by Monday.

After blocking consideration of their own bipartisan infrastructure deal on Wednesday, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and 10 other Republican senators signed a letter suggesting they'd have a deal to proceed by Monday. As of late Sunday night, they were still refusing to agree to a bipartisan plan, and Portman was criticizing Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not bringing it up in the House.

CNN's Manu Raju reported late on Sunday that weekend-long talks had so far failed to yield a final bipartisan infrastructure deal. He said the parties were struggling to resolve how much transit funding to include, how to handle investments in broadband, and how to pay for the package.

While negotiations are ongoing, Portman had previously indicated that he and the GOP negotiators would be ready to take up the bill by Monday.

In June, a group of Republican and Democratic senators reached an agreement to invest $579 billion in transportation, water systems, and broadband infrastructure. President Joe Biden signed on to their framework and has been pushing for its passage.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tried to begin debate on the framework — but every single Republican senator voted against doing so. Because most legislation in the Senate requires a three-fifths supermajority to pass, the GOP minority was able to block Schumer's motion by filibuster despite the support of a simple majority of senators.

"We're a no today because we're not ready," explained Portman at that time. "We're saying we do want to take up this bill as soon as we are, and we think that’ll be Monday."

On Sunday, Portman appeared on ABC News and attacked Pelosi for holding up the same bipartisan infrastructure package that he and his party are still blocking. Pelosi has backed the package, but said she will only bring it up in the House after the Senate also agrees on a budget reconciliation package to fund other investment priorities, such as paid leave, child care, caregiving, clean energy, and climate change infrastructure.

"The infrastructure bill has nothing to do with the reckless tax-and-spend extravaganza that she's talking about in terms of what reconciliation, as she called it," Portman complained. "I'm not happy with what she said because it's inconsistent with the agreement that we have on a bipartisan basis."

"It's been totally bipartisan from the start. It's the way we ought to be doing things here in Washington to get stuff done, and I can't believe the speaker of the House would be blocking it," he added — just four days after he himself voted to do just that.

Find the funding for the package has been a challenge, given the GOP's absolute opposition to Biden's proposals for taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The original bipartisan deal included a crackdown on rich tax cheaters, but Republicans have insisted that it be removed.

Polling shows the vast majority of Americans back both the bipartisan framework and Biden's other proposed infrastructure investments.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.