WASHINGTON With the support of all 50 Democrats, the Senate voted on Saturday to pass a comprehensive economic and climate change plan, advancing long-stalled items on President Joe Biden’s agenda.
All Republicans opposed the move to start the debate, which resulted in a 51–50 procedural vote on the filibuster-proof legislation. Vice President Kamala Harris provided the deciding vote to break the tie. The bill will pass the Senate and be sent to the House in the coming days if that support continues.
The Inflation Reduction Act, a piece of legislation, allocates significant funds to address global warming and expand access to healthcare, with the money coming from reduced spending on prescription medications and lower corporate taxes. It allocates hundreds of billions of dollars to cutting the deficit.
Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, stated, “This is one of the most comprehensive and significant bills Congress has seen in decades.”
As she arrived to break the 50-50 tie, Harris said to NBC News, “It’s going to mean a lot for the families and the people of our country.”
During a rare weekend session, the procedural vote opens several hours of debate and is followed by a “vote-a-rama,” where senators can propose an almost limitless number of amendments that must receive a simple majority of votes to pass.
The proposal is being pursued through a unique procedure called reconciliation, which disallows the filibuster and enables Democrats to pass it alone. However, the process has constraints; the law must adhere to a specific set of budgetary guidelines and any policy contained in the bill must be tied to taxes and spending. Democrats and Republicans used the same procedure to enact the American Rescue Plan in 2021 and the Trump tax cuts in 2017.
Democratic leaders claimed that the Senate parliamentarian had determined, prior to Saturday’s vote, that crucial Democratic initiatives on clean energy and allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug pricing had passed muster and could be incorporated into the inflation package.
According to Schumer, “the overall program is intact and we are one step closer to finally taking on Big Pharma and cutting Rx prescription prices for millions of Americans. However, there was one sad ruling in that the inflation refund is more restricted in scope.
After Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., rejected a larger bill in December, the Democrats-only package—which contains a number of components of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda—was for a while believed to be dead. He and Schumer struck a deal last week, pleasing many of his Democratic colleagues, and since then, he has been on a media blitz to promote it.
Manchin recently claimed on MSNBC that the bill is a red, white, and blue one and that it is “the bill that we need to battle inflation, to have more energy.”
After a week of inaction, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., approved the bill on Thursday after securing some amendments.
Sinema compelled Democrats to drop a clause that would have restricted the carried interest tax benefit, which allows rich investment managers and hedge fund managers to pay a reduced tax rate.
According to Schumer, there was no other option.
According to Schumer, it was substituted by a new 1% excise tax on stock buybacks, which is anticipated to generate $74 billion, five times as much revenue as the carried interest provision. Additionally, Sinema was successful in securing $4 billion for the avoidance of drought in Arizona and other western states.
Prior to her amendments, the impartial Congressional Budget Office estimated that the plan would result in a ten-year deficit reduction of around $100 billion and an extra potential $200 billion in revenue as a result of increased IRS enforcement resources.
John Thune, the R-S.D. Senate Minority Whip, promised Democrats tough votes during the vote-a-rama procedure.
Is there a chance that those modifications will ultimately result in changes to the legislation? could enhance it. Who knows, it might make it more difficult to pass in the House. Thursday, Thune stated.
Some Democrats are concerned that Republicans may introduce poison pill amendments on divisive topics like crime and immigration that could win a majority of votes in the Senate, eliminating some moderates and vulnerable senators up for reelection this fall, but alienate other Democrats and derail the fragile agreement.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said this week on MSNBC, “I certainly cannot support it if extraneous items get accepted, particularly derogatory immigration provisions that have nothing to do with the health, welfare, and security of the American people.”
A few Senate Democrats urged their colleagues to stay the line and reject amendments that would endanger the deal on Twitter on Saturday.
Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., declared that she would vote against every amendment, including those she agreed with. “This bill advances climate change mitigation and prescription medicine affordability in a historic way. We must work together to maintain its 50-vote majority.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, endorsed that tactic. He told reporters on Saturday, “There are a number of us who have already tweeted that we’re going to vote no on amendments that we like and we don’t like.”
“There is such a moral imperative to pass a bill that will address the existential threat posed by climate change. That inspires me, and I notice even greater unity than usual.
The amendment process, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would be nasty. “What kind of vote-a-rama will it be? He said, “It’ll be like hell.