Big climate, health care and Democrats’ tax package clears big Senate hurdle

WASHINGTON – The Senate voted Saturday to push forward a sweeping economy and climate bill with the support of all 50 Democrats, bringing long-stalled elements on the agenda. of President Joe Biden comes one step closer to reality.

Procedural voting for the termite protection package is 51-50, with all Republicans opposed to the proposal to begin debate and Vice President Kamala Harris voted discord. If that support is maintained, it should be enough to pass the bill through the Senate and send it to the House of Representatives in the coming days.

The act, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, includes massive spending to combat climate change and expand health care coverage, paid for with savings on prescription drugs and taxes on companies. It put hundreds of billions of dollars into reducing the deficit.

“This is one of the most comprehensive and impactful bills Congress has seen in decades,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said on the floor ahead of the meeting. vote.

“It will mean a lot to the family and people of our country,” Harris told NBC News as she arrived to break the 50-50 tie.

The procedural vote, in a rare weekend session, begins with several hours of debate, followed by “vote-a-rama” – a process in which senators can introduce amendments. virtually unlimited, requires a simple majority vote to pass.

The legislation is not subject to regulation – it is being pursued through a special process known as mediation, which allows Democrats to pass it on their own. But the process includes limits; The policies in the bill must involve spending and taxes, and the law must adhere to a series of strict budgetary rules. It’s the same process that Democrats used to get through Plan to rescue the US in 2021 and Republicans approved Trump’s tax cuts in 2017.

Ahead of Saturday’s vote, the Senate congressman ruled that key Democrats’ provisions on clean energy and allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices had passed and could be included in the package. inflation, Democratic leaders said.

“Despite an unfortunate ruling that the inflation rebate is of more limited scope,” Schumer said, “the overall program remains intact and we are one step closer to finally taking it.” Big Pharma and lower the price of Rx drugs for millions of Americans. “

The Democrat-only package, which included some parts of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, was said to be dead long after Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., turn down a larger bill in December. He break an agreement last week with Schumer, surprised many of his Democratic colleaguesand has since gone viral in the media to sell it.

“It’s a red, white and blue bill,” Manchin said recently on MSNBC, calling it “one of the greatest pieces of legislation” and “the bill that we need to fight inflation, to have more more energy.”

On Thursday, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., After a week of silence, sign the invoice after making sure some changes to it.

Sinema forced Democrats to remove a provision that would limit the reduction of the transfer rate tax, which would allow wealthy hedge funds and investment managers to pay lower taxes.

“We had no choice,” Schumer told reporters.

Instead, it’s been replaced with a new 1% excise tax on stock buybacks that are expected to bring in $74 billion — five times more than the interest allowance, Schumer said. Sinema also secured $4 billion in funding for drought prevention in Arizona and other western states.

In light of her changes, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office Find that the measure would reduce the deficit by about $100 billion over a decade, with the potential to add $200 billion in revenue due to increased IRS resources for enforcement.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, RS.D., promised a “hard vote for Democrats” during the voting process.

“The question is, in the end, are those amendments really amendments that could change the bill? Could make it better. Could make it difficult to pass in the House of Commons? more, who knows?” Thune said on Friday.

Some Democrats worry about Republicans’ proposed poison pill amendment on controversial issues like immigration and crime could win a majority of votes in the Senate – pick several senators moderate and vulnerable face re-election this fall – but alienate other Democrats and break the fragile agreement.

Senator Bob Menendez, DN.J., said: “I certainly could not support it, if unrelated provisions were passed, especially those on immigration by unrelated killings. concerning the health, welfare, and security of the American people”. .

On Saturday, several Senate Democrats took to Twitter and urged their colleagues to hold their ground and vote down amendments that could jeopardize the package.

“I will vote NO on all amendments, even those with which I agree,” tweeted Senator Tina Smith, D-Minn. “This measure makes historic progress on climate action and reducing prescription drug costs. This measure has 50 votes and we need to stick together to stay that way.”

Senator Cory Booker, DN.J., agrees with that strategy. “There were some of us who tweeted that we would vote no for the amendments that we like and that we don’t like,” he told reporters on Saturday.

“There is a moral urgency … to get a cross-cutting bill that addresses the existential threat of climate change. I think that’s motivating and I even see unity. more than usual.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., said Friday the revision process would be “very uncomfortable.” “What will the vote be like? It will be like hell,” he said.

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