washington — The Senate on Sunday passed the Democrats’ sweeping economic package aimed at tackling climate change, cutting health care costs and raising taxes on big businesses, a crucial achievement for President Biden and his party as they seek to to maintain its grip on Congress in the mid-November elections.
The plan called theswept the upper chamber 51-50 along party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris providing the casting vote in the evenly divided Senate. Democrats used an accelerated legislative process known as reconciliation to pass the measure in the face of unanimous Republican opposition.
“It’s been a long, hard, and winding road, but finally, finally, we’ve arrived,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a Senate speech as members prepared to vote on the final passage. “Today, after more than a year of hard work, the Senate is making history. I am confident that the Anti-Inflation Act will endure as one of the defining legislative achievements of the 21st century.”
The vote came after a marathon session that lasted all night and into Sunday afternoon, with Democrats breaking out in applause as members cast their final votes. In a process known as “vote-a-rama,” Republicans offered a series of amendments that Democrats successfully defeated in nearly 16 hours of debate.
GOP senators managed to block a provision that should haveat $35 per month for those covered by private health insurance plans. It took Democrats 60 votes to waive the reconciliation rules and keep that portion of the bill, but it fell 57-43, and seven Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure.
House Democrat leaders announced last week that the lower chamber will return from its month-long hiatus on Friday to take up legislation that is expected to pass.
Mr. Biden commended Senate Democrats for passing the plan, acknowledging that “a lot of compromises” would be needed. He called on the House of Representatives to quickly approve the bill.
“Today, Senate Democrats sided with American families on special interests and voted to cut prescription drug costs, reduce health insurance and everyday energy costs, and reduce the deficit while the wealthiest companies finally pay their fair share ‘ the President said in a statement. “I ran for President and I promised to put government back to work for working families, and this bill does exactly that — period.”
The package is the culmination of months of negotiations over Mr Biden’s domestic political agenda, which at times appeared to be on life support but was revived with the late last monthan agreement between Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia.
While the legislation is much narrower than the sweeping $3.5 trillion proposal put forward by Mr. Biden last year, the tailored package had the support of Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat whose.
Still, Democrats are hailing the plan as their response to tackling rising consumer prices and for investing nearly $400 billion in the fight against climate change, the largest ever. The package allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, a key Democrat priority that is expected to save hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years. It also extends improved health insurance subsidies, which were due to expire at the end of the year, and imposes a 15% minimum tax on most companies that make more than $1 billion each year.
The corporate income tax provision emerged as a point of contention as senators neared a final vote on Sunday. Seven Democratic senators — Sinema, Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock, Catherine Cortez Masto, Maggie Hassan, Mark Kelly, and Jacky Rosen — joined Republicans in co-sponsoring an amendment by GOP Sen. John Thune of South Dakota that would ban some private-equity firms. Support exempts from the minimum corporate tax rate of 15%. This change was passed from 57 to 43.
To promote clean energy, the measure includes tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and the manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines. It also offers rebates for consumers who buy energy-efficient appliances and allocates $4 billion to drought relief.
Schumer hailed the law as the “boldest climate package” in US history, calling it a “game changer” and a “watershed moment.”
“It took a long time,” he said.
Part of the Democrats’ drug pricing plan — imposing penalties on drugmakers who raise private insurer prices above inflation — wasafter it was reviewed by Senate MP Elizbeth MacDonough. However, their approval of the rest of the package paved the way for the upper chamber to proceed with consideration of the bill.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation will reduce the deficit by $102 billion over the next 10 years. However, Republicans argued that the plan would have little impact on inflation, instead raising taxes while leading to job losses.
in a (nOn Sunday, Senator Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, claimed that the Democrats’ drug pricing plan will hurt seniors while the tax component will raise taxes for Americans.
“Why would you increase government costs? We’re raising taxes,” he said.