By 51-50 margin, Senate votes to begin debate on Inflation Reduction Act

A divided Senate voted to begin debate on Saturday Democrats’ election year economic billMoving from its initial test to President Joe Biden’s vast collection of priorities on climate, energy, health and taxes, as it begins to move through Congress.

In a preview of expected votes on a mountain of amendments, the United Democrats pushed the law 51-50 through an evenly divided chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie and unanimously overcoming the Republican opposition. The package, a shoddy version of earlier multitrillion-dollar measures that Democrats failed to pursue, has become a partisan battleground on inflation, gasoline prices and other issues that polls show are driving voters. Huh.

The House, where Democrats have a low majority, could give it final approval next Friday when lawmakers plan to return to Washington.

came after the vote Senate MP gave thumbs up In the amended 755-page bill of most Democrats. But Elizabeth McDonough, the chamber’s nonpartisan rules moderator, said Democrats had to drop a significant part of their plan to curb drug prices.

McDonough said Democrats violated Senate budget rules by imposing heavy fines on drugmakers who boosted their prices beyond inflation in the private insurance market. They were the bill’s main pricing protection for the roughly 180 million people whose health coverage comes from private insurance, either purchased through work or on their own.

Other pharmaceutical provisions were upheld, including giving Medicare the power to negotiate to pay for drugs for its 64 million elderly recipients, a longtime Democratic aspiration. Penalties on manufacturers for exceeding inflation will apply to drugs sold to Medicare, and there is a $2,000 annual out-of-pocket cap on drug costs and free vaccines for Medicare beneficiaries.

“The time is now for the American people to move forward with a big, bold package,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y. “This historic bill will reduce inflation, reduce costs, fight climate change. It is time to move this country forward.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Democrats are “misreading the outrage of the American people as a mandate for another reckless tax and spending spree.” He added that Democrats “already robbed American families once through inflation and now their solution is to rob American families a second time.”

Saturday’s vote ended a shocking 10-day period in which Democrats resurrected top constituents of Biden’s agenda who seemed dead. In rapid-fire deals with two of the Democrats’ most unlikely senators — first West Virginia’s conservative Joe Manchin, then Arizona’s centrist Kirsten Cinema — Schumer devised a package that would give the party a feat against the backdrop of this fall’s congressional elections. .

A White House statement said the legislation “will help address today’s most pressing economic challenges, keep our economy strong for decades to come, and help the United States become the world leader in clean energy.” will help.”

Assuming that Democrats fight a nonstop “vote-a-rama” of amendments—designed by many Republicans to derail the measure—they should be able to introduce the measure through the Senate.

Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said of the GOP amendments, “How’s the Vote-a-Rama? It’ll be like hell.” He said that in supporting the Democratic bill, Manchin and Cinema are “empowering legislation that will make the average person’s life more difficult” with tax increases forcing energy costs and forcing companies to hire workers. But taking it is making it difficult.

The bill provides spending and tax incentives in favor of progressives to buy electric vehicles and make buildings more energy efficient. But in a bow for Manchin, whose state is a major fossil fuel producer, there’s also money to reduce coal plant carbon emissions and language that requires the government to open up more federal land and water for oil drilling.

The expired subsidy that helps millions of people afford private insurance premiums will be extended for three years, and there is a provision of $4 billion to help Western states cope with drought. A new provision would create a $35 monthly cap for insulin, the costly diabetes drug, for Medicare and privately insured patients starting next year. The language seemed to be weakened or removed during the debate.

Reflecting Democrats’ call for tax equity, there would be a new 15% minimum tax on some corporations that make more than $1 billion annually but pay far less than the current 21% corporate tax. Companies that buy back their own stock for those transactions will be taxed at 1% after Cinema refused to support higher taxes on private equity firm executives and hedge fund managers. The IRS budget will be pumped to bolster its tax collection.

While the final cost of the bill is still being determined, it will cost close to $400 billion over 10 years to slow climate change overall, which analysts say will be the nation’s largest investment in that effort. And there will be billions more on health care. It would raise more than $700 billion in taxes and government drug cost savings, leaving nearly $300 billion for deficit reduction over the coming decade—a blip compared to that period’s estimated $16 trillion in budget shortfalls.

Democrats are using special procedures that would allow them to pass the measure without reaching the 60-vote majority that legislation often requires in the Senate.

The lawmaker decides whether parts of the law should be left out for violating those rules, including a requirement that the provision be primarily aimed at influencing the federal budget, not enforcing a new policy.

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