Senate Democrats are preparing to begin a marathon session of voting this weekend as the chamber kicks off a complex procedure to pass a $433 billion climate and spending package — as the party suffered a blow to a key portion of the bill’s drug reform plan.
The so-called “vote-a-rama” will allow Senators from both parties to offer unlimited amendments to the final bill after debate has closed. Dozens are expected to be offered and voted upon in rapid fire sessions.
The vote is required under the rules of reconciliation, which allows Democrats to do an end-run around Republican filibusters and pass the bill with a simple majority.
For months, Senate Democrats have worked to craft a bill that would attract the support of all 50 of their members. A final deal was reached this week and the vote-a-rama is expected to begin Saturday evening or early Sunday.
Republicans have vowed to make it painful, forcing Democrats into potentially embarrassing votes ahead of tough midterm elections in November.
“What will vote-a-rama be like? It will be like hell,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), said in a press conference Thursday, Fox News reported. “They deserve this.”
The Democrat’s left flank may also cause trouble. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said he plans to offer a number of politically perilous left wing goodies — including lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 60.
Though he won’t stand in the way of overall passage, Sanders has said the current bill “does virtually nothing to address the enormous crises that working families all across this country are facing today,” The Hill reported.
The lion’s share of new spending, $369 billion, will go toward a raft of energy and climate provisions, including $62 billion to support manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, electric cars and process critical minerals. There will be $60 billion for “environmental justice” including projects in “disadvantaged communities,” $30 billion green-energy projects by states and electric utilities, $27 billion for “clean energy technology accelerator” to reduce emissions and $20 billion to support “climate-smart agriculture practices.”
Americans looking to purchase a new electric car will receive a $7,500 tax credit and a $4,000 credit for used models.
The bill is expected to reduce the deficit by paying for the programs with $764 billion in new tax increases.
Among the revenue generators are are a 15% corporate minimum tax, prescription drug price reform and stepped up IRS enforcement.
The bill’s provisions must also be signed off on by Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian.
In a ruling Saturday morning, MacDonough said most of the prescription drug reform plan was kosher, but nixed a portion that would penalize drug companies for raising prices on those with private insurance policies.
“This is a major victory for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said in a statement, Politico reported. “While there was one unfortunate ruling … the overall program remains intact and we are one step closer to finally taking on Big Pharma and lowering Rx drug prices for millions of Americans.”
PREDICTED TOTAL REVENUE: roughly $764 billion
Setting 15% Corporate Minimum Tax — $258 billion
Prescription Drug Price Reform — $288 billion
— Allows Medicare to negotiate prices, caps out-of-pocket costs at $2,000
Increased IRS Tax Enforcement — $125 billion
— Dependent on $80 billion expenditure across 10 years to reach net revenue
New stock buyback tax — $73 billion
— 1% excise tax on corporate stocks buybacks, proposed by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema
Fee on methane leaks — $20 billion
PREDICTED TOTAL SPENDING: $433 billion
Energy and Climate Provisions: $369 billion
–$7.5K tax credits for buyers of new electric vehicles, $4K for used models
–$62 billion to support manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, electric cars and process critical minerals
–$60 billion for ‘environmental justice’ including projects in ‘disadvantaged communities’
–$30 billion green-energy projects by states and electric utilities
–$27 billion for ‘clean energy technology accelerator’ to reduce emissions
–$20 billion to support ‘climate-smart agriculture practices’
–$10 billion in low-income home energy rebates and grants for affordable housing retrofits
–$9 billion for federal clean-energy purchases, including $3 billion for USPS electric vehicles
–$7.6 billion in grants to support forest conservation, plant trees and restore coastlines
Healthcare Provisions: $64 billion
–Extension of COVID-era Affordable Care Act subsidies through 2025, allowing people earning up to 150% of poverty level to get health insurance for $0. Higher earners can get coverage for 8.5% of income