Senate Democrats on Saturday put forward their long-delayed health, tax and climate law after months of back and forth about whether the party would be able to pass important legislation that addresses some of their progressive priorities ahead of the mid-term elections. term.
The Senate voted along the party lines, 50-50, to start the debate on the measure, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
Democrats are passing the bill using a special parliamentary procedure called reconciliation, which does not allow for Republican obstruction.
Democrats, keen to publicize the bill’s benefits during the election campaign this fall, have lauded it as a historian.
“This is one of the most comprehensive and impactful Congressional bills we have seen in recent decades,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DNY). “It will reduce inflation. It will reduce the cost of prescription drugs. It will fight climate change. It will close the tax loopholes and reduce the deficit. It will help every citizen of this country and make America a much better place. “
The bill would allow the federal government to begin negotiating drug prices in Medicare, albeit slowly, and would create incentives and grants to fight the climate crisis, two of the top policy priorities Democrats hope to run this fall.
The non-party congressional budget office, which publishes estimates of the costs of the legislation, on Saturday said it was still working on one due to last-minute changes. An analysis of an earlier version of the bill found it would reduce the deficit by $ 102 billion over a decade.
For Democrats in Congress and President Biden, it would mark a welcome legislative bright spot.
Democrats have been busy over the past few days to wrap up the negotiations, a job that continued until Saturday.
As Democrats are passing the bill through reconciliation, it needs to be reviewed by a non-partisan Senate official to confirm that all elements of the legislation comply with Senate rules. This process has been going on for days and was largely completed by noon on Saturday.
While the Democrats have been able to keep most of their account intact through this process, they have had to change the way a cap on drug price increases will be calculated. It is also unclear whether a $ 35 cap on insulin copays will outweigh the process.
After Saturday’s vote, lawmakers were expected to start a long series of votes on the amendments to the bill, dubbed the vote-a-rama. As part of the reconciliation process, the minority party can offer unlimited amendments and generally takes the opportunity to propose politically controversial ideas aimed at blocking the bill or, at the very least, forcing the majority to take politically unfavorable votes.
Senator Lindsey Graham (RSC) said the trial will be “like hell. They deserve it.”
“I hope we can come up with proposals that will make sense for some of them and will abandon this jihad that they are in,” he said on Friday.
Republicans say the bill will worsen inflation. “The Democrats want to get hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases and hundreds of billions of dollars in reckless spending,” Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Said Saturday.
The CBO estimated that the bill would have a “negligible” impact on inflation this year. Democrats have cited other economic experts who say it will reduce inflation.
“This is fighting inflation,” Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.V.) said last weekend as he publicized the bill in “Face the Nation”. “This is the absolutely horrible position people are in now because of the costs of inflation, whether it’s gasoline, whether it’s food prices, whether it’s energy prices, and it’s around to energy, mainly this is driving [this] high inflation “.
If the Democrats are able to stick together through the series of amendments, they hope to give final approval to the bill as early as Sunday morning.
House leaders plan to take members of that house back to Washington on Friday to vote on the bill. If approved, he would go to Biden’s desk for his signature.
Declared dead multiple times in the past year, the Democrats’ radical legislation has been resurrected following secret talks between Schumer and Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate.
The bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, is much smaller than the original $ 3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” plan, which contained a number of progressive policies such as universal daycare and childcare assistance. childhood that Manchin said in December he would not support.
Once Manchin and Schumer struck a deal on one plan, the focus shifted to another frequent anomaly in the Democratic ranks, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
It eliminated the bill’s tightening of an “interest-led” tax loophole that will benefit high-income investors and was supposed to add new funding to fight the drought, though those details are still undefined.