Harris breaks 50-50 deadlock to advance groundbreaking climate, tax and health bill

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The Senate voted along party lines Saturday afternoon to propose a sweeping bill to reform the tax law, tackle climate change and cut the cost of prescription drugs, marking a major step to deliver a major victory to President Biden before the midterm elections in November.

The Senate voted 51 to 50 to proceed to the 755 page bill, after Vice President Kamala Harris arrived at the Capitol to cast the casting vote.

The vote puts the bill on course to pass the Senate sometime Sunday, barring an unexpected setback, such as the sudden absence of a Democratic senator.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) praised the impending approval of the bill as a major achievement.

“It is time for the Senate to begin the debate on this historic piece of legislation. The Inflation Reduction Act is a groundbreaking bill for the American people, for families who struggle to pay the bills, for seniors who struggle to pay for medicine, for children who struggle with asthma,” Schumer said before the vote on the vote. ground.

“This is one of the most comprehensive and impactful bills Congress has seen in decades,” he stated, promising it would reduce inflation, lower the cost of drugs, fight climate change and close tax loopholes. .

The procedural vote allows for 20 hours of debate to be split equally between Democrats and Republicans, followed by an open series of amendments known as a vote-a-rama.

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However, members of both parties predict that most of the time they will give in to move more quickly to consider changes.

Senate Republicans expect to vote on between 40 and 50 amendments.

A final vote will take place sometime on Sunday.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued that the legislation will “destroy American jobs and devastate our manufacturing sector” and “will not have any meaningful impact on global temperatures.”

He warned that allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices will hurt research and development in the pharmaceutical industry.

“The policy would create a world where far fewer drugs and treatments are invented in the first place,” he said.

Republicans want to do as much political damage as possible to vulnerable Democratic incumbents like Sens. Mark Kelly (Ariz.) and Raphael Warnock (Ga.) by forcing votes on border security, domestic energy production, inflation and crime.

Democrats have their own plan to force Republicans to cast a hard vote on limiting the out-of-pocket cost of insulin bills to $35 a month.

They expect to challenge a Senate MP ruling against a Warnock-sponsored provision to lower insulin prices. Democrats say Republicans who vote to maintain an objection to the insulin supply are undermining an effort to fight inflation and help Americans with diabetes.

The broader legislation will bring in about $740 billion in revenue by introducing a 15 percent corporate tax, allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs, and levying a 1 percent excise tax on share buybacks.

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The Senate voted Saturday to begin debate on the Inflation Reduction Act after receiving an updated analysis of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office. CBO estimates the bill will reduce the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years.

Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin (TAUT.Va.), who negotiated the bill, say it will cut the deficit by more than $300 billion in a decade.

The corporate tax minimum will bring in $258 billion in revenue, but will exempt full expense deductions for companies across all industries — a change Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) negotiated with Schumer.

By giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, the government is expected to save $288 billion in ten years and the excise tax on stock buybacks will bring in $74 billion.

Another $124 billion in revenue will come from improving operations at the IRS and strengthening tax compliance enforcement.

It would spend $369 billion on energy security and climate change programs estimated to reduce global warming emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

It would fund energy rebates for consumers at home, subsidies to make affordable homes more energy efficient, and tax credits to accelerate domestic production of solar panels, wind turbines and batteries.

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It would provide generous tax credits to buy new and used electric vehicles, although critics of the bill say those credits can’t be used immediately because they don’t apply to vehicles with batteries produced in China or that rely on Chinese minerals. .

It would extend the expiring health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act for another three years at a cost of $64 billion.

A group of Senate Democrats worked Saturday afternoon to convince Democratic colleagues to vote against any amendments to the bill because it could upset the delicate compromise negotiated by Schumer and the two centrists who held out for months: Manchin and Sinema.

“I do not vote for amendments. I’m trying to clean this account and get it out of here. It’s too important.”

Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he plans to propose an amendment to dramatically expand Medicare’s power to negotiate lower drug prices, which he says will reach 900 in 10 years. billion dollars.

He wants to use the money to expand Medicare by lowering the eligibility age to 60 and adding expanded dental, vision and hearing benefits.

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