Senate Democrats near passage of Inflation Reduction Act in marathon overnight session

Washington — Democrats run their election year economic package headed toward Senate approval early Sunday, debating a measure with less ambition than President Biden’s original domestic vision, but that also has deep implications for slowing global warming, lowering drug costs and taxing giant corporations. Touches rooted party dreams.

Debate began on Saturday and by sunrise on Sunday, Democrats had thwarted a dozen Republican attempts to torpedo the law, with no clear end. Despite unanimous GOP protests, Democratic unity in the 50-50 chamber – influenced by Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote – suggested the party was on track for a morale-boosting victory three months before the election when control of Congress was at stake.

The House plans to return on Friday sometime from summer recess, which Democrats hope will be final Congressional approval.

“It will reduce inflation. It will reduce the cost of prescription drugs. It will fight climate change. It will close tax loopholes and it will reduce and reduce the deficit,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said in the package. Said about. “It will help every citizen of this country and make America a better place.”

Republicans said the measure would undermine an economy that policymakers are struggling to keep from falling into recession. He said the bill’s trade tax would hurt job creation and cause prices to skyrocket, making it difficult for people to cope with the country’s worst inflation since the 1980s.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky argued, “Democrats have already robbed American families through inflation, and now their solution is to rob American families a second time.” He said the spending and tax increases in legislation would kill jobs, while having negligible impact on inflation and climate change.

Non-partisan analysts have said Democrats’ “Inflation Reduction Act” will have a marginal effect on consumer prices growth. The bill is more than a tenth the size of Biden’s initial 10-year, leaving behind a $3.5 trillion rainbow of progressive aspirations and its proposals for universal preschool, paid family leave and expanded child care assistance.

Still, the new measure gives Democrats a campaign-season showcase for action on the coveted goals. It includes the largest ever federal effort on climate change – close to $400 billion – giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices and expanding the ending subsidies that would cover 13 million people with health insurance. Helps to meet expenses.

Opposing it, conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia blasted Biden’s original measure, saying it was too expensive and would lead to inflation.

In a tough test imposed on all such budget bills, the Senate descended into an hour-long “vote-a-ram” of rapid-fire amendments. Each tested the Democrats’ ability to strike a deal negotiated by Schumer, the Progressives, Manchin, and Arizona’s steadfast centrist Democratic Sen. Kirsten Cinema.

Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont offered amendments to further expand the health benefits of the law, and those efforts were defeated. But most of the proposed changes were designed by Republicans to highlight the bill or to force Democrats to vote in dangerous political territory.

A GOP resolution would have forced the Biden administration to continue with Trump-era sanctions, which cited the pandemic to reduce the flow of migrants at the Southwest border.

Earlier this year, Democrats facing a tough election backed such an extension, forcing the party to abandon its push for COVID-19 spending after Republicans combined the two issues. This time, with their big economic law at stake and the election nearing, Democrats rallied against border controls.

Other GOP amendments would have required more gas and oil leases on federal lands and blocked the renewal of tariffs on oil that help finance toxic waste cleanup. All were rejected on party-line votes. Republicans accused Democrats of being soft on border security and opening the door to higher energy and gas costs.

Before the debate began on Saturday, the bill capped prescription drug prices. thin by a nonpartisan MP of the Senate. Elizabeth McDonough, who refereeed questions about the chamber’s procedures, said a provision should fall in place that would impose costly fines on drug makers whose cost is higher than inflation for private insurers.

This was the bill’s main protection for the 180 million people with private health coverage that they get through work or buy-in. Under special procedures that would let Democrats pass their bill by a simple majority without the usual 60-vote margin, its provisions should focus more on dollar-and-cents budget numbers than policy changes.

But the price of his medicine remained the emphasis of the language. This includes allowing Medicare to pay for drugs for its 64 million elderly recipients, penalizing manufacturers for over-inflation for pharmaceuticals sold to Medicare, and paying out-of-pocket drug costs to beneficiaries by $2,000 annually. dollar limit.

The bill costs patients $35 a month for insulin, an expensive diabetes drug.

The measure’s final costs were being recalculated to reflect late changes, but in total it would raise more than $700 billion over a decade. The money will come from a 15% minimum tax on a handful of corporations with annual profits of more than $1 billion, a 1% tax on companies that repurchase their own stock, boosted IRS tax collections, and government savings from lower drug costs.

The cinema forced Democrats to drop a plan to prevent wealthy hedge fund managers from paying less than personal income tax rates for their earnings. She also joined with other Western senators to win $4 billion to tackle the region’s drought.

It was in favor of energy and the environment that the agreement between the progressives and champion of fossil fuels and Manchin, the champion of his state’s coal industry, was most evident.

Clean energy will be promoted with tax credits for buying electric vehicles and making solar panels and wind turbines. There will be domestic energy rebates, money to build factories that manufacture clean energy technology, and to promote climate-friendly agricultural practices and reduce pollution in minority communities.

Manchin won billions to help power plants reduce carbon emissions as well as language requiring more government auctions for oil drilling on federal lands and waters. Party leaders also promised to push separate legislation this fall to expedite permits for energy projects, which Munchkin seeks to cover a nearly complete natural gas pipeline in his state.

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