Following the release of the legislative text for the bipartisan infrastructure package over the weekend, the size and scope of its amendment process has become a partisan flashpoint.  Throughout the week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has emphasized the need for a “robust” amendment process and that Democrats must not take steps to “choke off” debate via “any artificial timetable.”  With nearly 300 amendments filed thus far to the bipartisan infrastructure measure, Senate action on the legislation has come to “a crawl.”  In several instances this week, senators have held amendments from colleagues of their own party by objecting to vote on them unless their own priorities are also guaranteed a vote.  Senators say they expect the bipartisan package to come up for a final series of votes as soon as this weekend; however, that timing will depend on whether all Senators feel they have been given enough time to make changes to the legislation.  After two days of voting, the Senate has processed only seven amendments so far.  At this pace, the Senate will likely have to stay in session at least through this weekend before breaking for the August recess, which was originally scheduled to begin this Friday.  Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-New York) reaffirmed this delay when he stated, “we’re going to stay here as long as it takes to get this done. Period.”
On the House side, it remains unclear in what form, if any, the lower chamber will have input on the bipartisan package.  This could come in the form of a conference committee or, more likely, putting various House priorities “in another vehicle” such as the future reconciliation bill.  Once the Senate passes its version of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, they will move to immediately begin the budget reconciliation process by passing a budget resolution.  Nevertheless, House leadership staff has emphasized that a reconciliation bill will not be ready until late September to mid-October, not immediately after the budget resolution is done as it was this Spring.