Senate ‘vote-a-rama’ continues after Inflation Reduction Act advances

Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, participates in a procedural vote on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. He voted no on the measure. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI

Aug. 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Senate continued its “vote-a-rama” overnight into Sunday morning on amendments to a bill that tackles health care and taxes and provides the largest-ever investments into green energy in American history.

The $740 billion bill includes $433 billion in new spending on investments into green energy and the reduction of greenhouse gases, and would give Medicare the ability to negotiate the prices for prescription drugs.

The marathon voting began just after 11:30 p.m. Saturday after Vice President Kamala Harris cast a tie-breaking vote along unanimous party lines, 50-50, to advance the Inflation Reduction Act.

The bill received backing from centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer had led the party to deals earning their cooperation while removing a provision that targeted closing a tax loophole for hedge fund managers.

Senate Republicans proposed a slurry of amendments to the bill overnight and are expected to force votes on amendments to the bill for at least a few more hours ahead of a final vote — which is also expected to pass along party lines.

Democrats could pass the package through the Senate on Sunday with a simple majority in a budget process known as reconciliation that allows them to avoid a Republican filibuster.

However, Republicans with a vote of 57-43 successfully removed a provision capping the cost of insulin for many patients at $35 but left intact a portion of the provision that applies to Medicare patients.

In the reconciliation process, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough must decide whether the bill’s provisions meet strict budget rules.

MacDonough on Saturday gave approval of the bill’s climate provisions and most of its plans targeting drug prices but said part of the cap did not adhere to rules that allowed Democrats to advance the bill, including the insulin provision.

“Republicans have just gone on the record in favor of expensive insulin,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., according to the Washington Post.

“After years of tough talk about taking on insulin makers, Republicans have once against wilted in the face of heat from Big Pharma.”

Schumer announced Saturday that the bill “remains largely intact” after undergoing the parliamentarian’s review.

“The bill, when passed, will meet all of our goals — fighting climate change, lowering health care costs, closing tax loopholes abused by the wealthy and reducing the deficit,” Schumer said.

However, Democrats also rejected proposals from Sen. Bernie Sanders to insert provisions that would expand Medicare.

After the final vote, the bill would then need to be approved by the House, which is expected to take up the legislation Friday, before it can be sent to President Joe Biden‘s desk to be signed into law. Only a majority vote is needed in the House, which is controlled by Democrats.

A larger form of the bill, called Build Back Better, was more than $4 trillion but stalled in the Senate.


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