After weeks of negotiations to revive the core of their campaign platform, Senate Democrats appear to be on the verge of adopting a spending bill that would try to tackle climate change, the high cost of prescription drugs and cut the deficit by about $300 billion.
Three weeks ago, the bill was nearly dead when Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., declined its support, citing concerns about rising historically high inflation.
But just last week, he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., announced a deal, much to the surprise of other senators., who will begin debating the bill on Saturday afternoon.
The legislation is a significant step forward for President Biden’s national agenda.
“This bill is a game-changer for working families and our economy,” Biden said at a White House event on Friday. “I look forward to seeing the Senate pass this legislation and pass it as soon as possible.”
The bill is passed through budget reconciliation, which means that each section of the bill must be reviewed by the Senate parliamentarian to ensure that it is indeed legislation that will primarily impact on the budget. This review process is often referred to as the “Byrd Bath”, named after the late West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd.
The Inflation Reduction Act is still in progress in the Byrd Bath. Schumer said Friday the congressman has all day to consider the bill and hopes to present it to the prosecutor’s office on Saturday afternoon.
Democrats appear to have all 50 votes at conference after Sinema deal
Late Thursday night, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said she would “move forward” with the legislation; she was the last to resist the bill, and her support essentially means the Senate has the 50 Democratic votes needed to pass the bill.
To get on board, Sinema wanted the section of the bill that narrowed the carried interest tax loophole removed. The measure impacts how private equity is taxed and Democrats say it would have raised $14 billion.
What Sinema wanted to add, however, is generating more revenue. It’s a 1% excise tax on stock buybacks – Schumer said on Friday he and progressive Democrats were excited about this aspect of the bill, which he said would raise about $74 billion of dollars.
“What we’ve added excites me and I think it excites all Democrats and especially progressives,” Schumer said at a Friday press conference. “I hate stock buybacks. I think it’s one of the most self-serving things corporate America does.”
About $4 billion in drought resistance was also added by Senators Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev., Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, and Michael Bennet, D-Colo. Sinema had also called for this addition in the bill.
The bill is still criticized by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has argued that the legislation does not do enough for working-class Americans by not raise the minimum wage, make child care more affordable or tackle the student debt crisis.
He took to the Senate floor on Wednesday and called it the “so-called” Inflation Reduction Act.
“As currently drafted, this is an extremely modest bill that does next to nothing to address the enormous crises facing working families across the country today,” he said. -he declares.
He added that he plans to raise his concerns during the amendment process over the weekend, but a scenario in which Sanders’ concerns prevent him from voting for the bill is highly unlikely.
What could be another hurdle to the bill is opposition from Progressives in the House, who are expected to return to consider the bill late next week.
The big mystery is when the final vote will come
As senators wait for the Senate congresswoman to complete her analysis of the bill, both sides prepare for up to 20 hours of debate, split evenly between the two parties, which will begin once the bill is introduced by Schumer. .
Democrats are likely to cede most of their time. And some reports show Republicans might as well, so it could be a much shorter process than expected. If that turns out to be the case, “vote-a-rama” – when senators are allowed to introduce an unlimited number of amendments to the bill – could begin as early as Saturday night.
In a rama vote, a call is also allowed for the entire text of the bill, which is approximately 700 pages, to be read aloud.
It caps off a busy — and successful — period for Biden’s domestic agenda
In recent weeks, the Senate passed a bill to extend health services to veterans exposed to toxic combustion fireplaces, a semiconductor bill and a measure allowing Finland and Sweden to join NATO – and all those votes were bipartisan.
Schumer, however, made it clear that Senate Democrats will also go it alone if they have to, which they are doing with this bill. No Republican will vote for the legislation, but with a decisive vote from Vice President Harris, Democrats can still score a victory.
It caps off a busy week on Capitol Hill and also sets up a busy week for the president, who already has a slew of bills to sign next week.