Portman slams Pelosi's threat to delay infrastructure vote

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also said the bipartisan deal is 90% done.

July 25, 2021, 2:31 PM

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Sunday that the bipartisan infrastructure bill deal is near completion and slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's threat to hold off voting on the negotiated deal until a larger bill is passed through reconciliation by the Senate.

“We're about 90% of the way there -- I feel good about getting that done this week,” Portman told ABC "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Portman's optimism on Sunday indicated that negotiations have improved since late last week.

Democrats were making a behind-the-scenes push to move some funding away from highways to increase federal funding for transit. The senator was so frustrated with the state of negotiations on Thursday that he told reporters they might just drop highway funding from the bill entirely.

"We have one issue outstanding and we're not getting much response from the Democrats on it -- it's about mass transit," Portman said Sunday.

Pelosi, in a separate interview earlier on "This Week," said that she plans to stick with her decision to hold any vote on the bipartisan deal until after the Senate passes a larger infrastructure package through reconciliation.

"I won't put it on the floor until we have the rest of the initiative," Pelosi said.

"I'm not happy with what she said," Portman said later. "It's inconsistent with the agreement that we have on a bipartisan basis."

"Does that mean we'll end up with nothing?" Stephanopoulos asked Portman.

"If she has her way, we could," Portman responded. "I can't believe the speaker of the House would be blocking it."

Negotiators told ABC News the bipartisan infrastructure package could be ready to vote on again as early as Monday. Portman emphasized the popularity of the bill.

"Eighty-seven percent of the American people think we should do a bipartisan infrastructure package. It's the right thing to do. Every president in modern times has talked about it," Portman said.

Portman also rejected criticism that the negotiations on the bill are not truly bipartisan.

"The Wall Street Journal weighed in against the deal yesterday on their editorial page -- It says, taking the "bi" out of bipartisan. And they write: What's striking about the deal so far, however, is that by all appearances, this will be the most one-sided bipartisan deal in decades," Stephanopoulos said.

"Every single one of the issues has been bipartisan in the sense there have been Republican views and Democrat views and we found a way to find common ground, which is exactly what ought to happen," Portman responded.

Stephanopoulos also pressed Portman on why the Republicans are threatening not to vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling when they did so three times under former President Donald Trump.

The debt ceiling suspension is set to expire on July 31. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Punchbowl News on Wednesday, "I can't imagine there will be a single Republican voting to raise the debt ceiling after what we've been experiencing," despite a warning from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that failure to raise the debt ceiling would have "catastrophic economic consequences."

"Under every president there is a discussion of how you actually -- if you're going to raise the debt ceiling, how -- how to use something to affect the debt, particularly the long-term debt of this country," Portman responded. "And I think we ought to have that discussion."

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