Senate Democrats pass big deal with Biden; House, ready to deliver, will vote next: ‘It’s been a long, difficult and winding road, but in the end, we’ve finally got there’

WASHINGTON – Democrats pushed their election year-long economic package through the Senate on Sunday, a tough compromise less ambitious than President Joe Biden’s original domestic vision but still satisfying. The party’s far-reaching goals are to slow global warming, moderate the cost of pharmaceuticals, and to tax large corporations.

An estimated $740 billion package sits next to the House of Representatives, where lawmakers are poised to work on Biden’s priorities, an astonishing twist on what seemed like a failed and overdue effort. suddenly returned to political life. The United Democrats, 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris voted inconclusively.

“It has been a long, difficult and tortuous road, but in the end, we have finally arrived,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said ahead of the final votes. .

“The Senate is making history. I am confident the Inflation Reduction Act will survive as one of the defining legislative measures of the 21st century.”

The senators took part in a round-the-clock voting marathon that began Saturday and ran through Sunday afternoon. Democrats have repealed about three dozen Republican amendments designed to destroy the law. Confronted with the unanimous GOP opposition, the Democrats united in the 50-50 chamber held, keeping the party on track to achieve a morale-boosting victory three months from the election when control of parliament is under threat.

“I think it will pass,” Biden told reporters as he left the White House early Sunday morning for Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, ending his COVID-19 isolation. The House of Representatives looks set to provide the final approval of Congress when it resumes shortly after the summer break on Friday.

The bill, which ran into trouble at midday over opposition to a new 15% minimum tax rate that private equity firms and other industries disliked, was forced to change it at the last minute.

Despite the temporary setback, the “Inflation Reduction Act” gives Democrats an early campaign pitch to take action on coveted goals. It includes the largest-ever federal effort on climate change – nearly $400 billion – to cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare to $2,000 a year, and expands expiring benefits to help 13 million people afford health insurance. By raising corporate taxes, the entire package will be paid off, with approximately $300 billion in additional revenue to reduce the deficit.

Just over one-tenth the size of Biden’s original 10-year, $3.5 trillion progressive aspiration on his Build Back Better initiative, the new package waives the proposals. previous initiatives on preschool universalization, paid leave and childcare aid expansion. That plan fell apart after conservative Senator Joe. Manchin, DW.Va., opposed it, saying it was too costly and would fuel inflation.

Nonpartisan analysts have said that the “Inflation Reduction Act” will have a small impact on rising consumer prices.

Republicans said the measure would weaken an economy that policymakers are struggling to avoid falling into a sharp recession. They say the bill’s business tax would hurt job creation and force prices to soar, making it difficult for residents to cope with the nation’s worst inflation since the 1980s.

“Democrats robbed American families once due to inflation, and now their solution is to rob American families a second time,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky , arguments. He said spending and tax increases in the law would eliminate jobs while having negligible impact on inflation and climate change.

In a challenge imposed on all budget bills like this one, the Senate endured an overnight “vote” on the swift amendments. Each Democrat has been tested on their ability to hold together a compromise negotiated by Schumer, the Progressives, Manchin, and the confusing centerpiece Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has proposed amendments to further expand the law’s health benefits, and those efforts have failed. Most votes were coerced by Republicans, and many were designed to make Democrats appear soft on the US-Mexico border security and fuel and energy costs, and like bullies because they want to strengthen IRS tax law enforcement.

Before debate began on Saturday, the bill’s prescription drug price cap was diluted by the nonpartisan congressman of the Senate. Elizabeth MacDonough, who raised questions about the chamber’s procedures, said a provision should be dropped that would impose costly penalties on drugmakers that raise prices on insurers private sector exceeds inflation.

This is the bill’s primary protection for the 180 million people with private health insurance they get through work or buy themselves. Under special procedures that allow Democrats to pass their bill by a simple majority without the usual 60-vote margin, its provisions must focus more on dollar budget numbers and cents rather than a change of policy.

But the thrust of their pharmaceutical price language remains. That includes allowing Medicare to negotiate what it pays for drugs for 64 million seniors, penalizing manufacturers for excess inflation on drugs sold to Medicare and limiting out-of-pocket drug costs. beneficiaries down to $2,000 per year.

The bill also limits Medicare patients’ costs for insulin, the expensive diabetes drug, to $35 monthly. Democrats wanted to extend the $35 limit to private insurers but it violated Senate rules. Most Republicans voted to remove it from the package, though in a sign of the political potential of health care costs, seven GOP senators joined Democrats in trying to preserve protect it.

The final cost of the measure has been recalculated to reflect the late changes, but overall it will increase by more than $700 billion over a decade. This will come from a 15% minimum tax rate on certain companies with annual profits above $1 billion, a 1% tax on companies that buy back their own stock, increased IRS tax collection. and government savings from lower drug costs.

Sinema forced Democrats to abandon a plan to stop wealthy hedge fund managers from paying less than the personal income tax rate on their earnings. She also joined other Western senators to win $4 billion to combat drought in the region.

Several Democratic senators have joined the GOP-led effort to exclude certain companies from the new corporate minimum tax rate.

The package follows Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on people earning less than $400,000 a year.

On the energy and environmental front, the compromise is most evident between the progressives and Manchin, a champion of his state’s fossil fuels and coal industry.

Clean energy is supported by tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and the production of solar panels and wind turbines. There will be home energy rebates, funds to build plants to build clean energy technology, and money to promote climate-friendly farming practices and reduce pollution in minority communities. .

Manchin won billions of dollars to help power plants reduce their carbon emissions plus language demanding more government bids to drill for oil on federal land and waters. Party leaders also promised to push for separate legislation this fall to speed up permits for energy projects, which Manchin wants to include in a near-complete natural gas pipeline in their state. me.

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