Senate Democrats Near Passage on Health and Climate Bill After Overnight ‘Vote-a-Rama’

0
7

Democrats drove their election-year economic package toward Senate approval early on Sunday morning and debated a smaller measure than one that was proposed by President Joe Biden.

“I think it’s gonna pass,” Biden told reporters as he left the White House early Sunday to go to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claimed that the bill-—slated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars—”will reduce inflation.”

“It will close tax loopholes and it will reduce and reduce the deficit,” Schumer added. “It will help every citizen in this country and make America a much better place.”

Republicans said the measure would undermine an economy that policymakers are struggling to keep from plummeting into recession. They said the bill’s business taxes would hurt job creation and force prices skyward, making it harder for people to cope with the nation’s worst inflation since the 1980s.

“Democrats have already robbed American families once through inflation, and now their solution is to rob American families a second time,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor.

Spending and tax increases in the legislation would eliminate jobs while having an insignificant impact on inflation and climate change, the Kentucky Republican leader said.

Starting on Saturday night, the Senate began its so-called “vote-a-rama” that comes before the final passage in the Senate’s budget reconciliation process. Democrats are using the process to pass the bill along party lines so as to avoid the 60-vote filibuster, and throughout the night, Vice President Kamala Harris served as a tie-breaker for Democrats on several amendments in the 50–50 Senate.

More Details

The bill came to the floor about a week after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced he came to an agreement with Schumer in what is believed to be an attempt to boost Democrats’ and Biden’s chances during the 2022 midterms amid months of negative polling. Biden’s original climate and social measure collapsed after Manchin opposed it, saying it was too costly and would fuel inflation.

“The Inflation Reduction Act is the product of years of bipartisan conversations about the most impactful ways to produce more energy domestically, bring down energy and healthcare costs and pay down our debt. The IRA achieves this without raising taxes,” Manchin wrote on Twitter.

Around the same time, the West Virginia Democrat said he would vote down GOP amendments.

“Despite this, my [Republican] friends have made clear they’re completely unwilling to support this bill under any condition. None of their amendments would change that,” Manchin said. “For this reason, I’ll vote to protect the integrity of the IRA regardless of the substance of their fake amendments.”

But left-wing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) offered amendments to further expand the legislation’s health benefits, and those efforts were defeated. Most votes were forced by Republicans and many were designed to make Democrats look soft on U.S.–Mexico border security and gasoline and energy costs, and like bullies for wanting to strengthen IRS tax law enforcement.

Late Saturday, Sanders said the measure won’t reduce inflation and said it also doesn’t go far enough with its climate-related measures.

“I want to take a moment to say a few words about the so-called Inflation Reduction Act’ that we are debating this evening,” Sanders said from the Senate floor. “And I say so-called, by the way, because according to the [Congressional Budget Office], and other economic organizations that study this bill, it will, in fact, have a minimal impact on inflation.”

Sanders added: “At a time when the drug companies are enjoying huge profits, the pharmaceutical industry will still be allowed to charge the American people by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips

Breaking News Reporter

Follow

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.