Senate Democrats have reached an accord on changes to their marquee economic legislation, they announced late Thursday, clearing the major hurdle to pushing one of President Joe Biden’s leading election-year priorities through the chamber in coming days.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a centrist who was seen as the pivotal vote, said in a statement that she had agreed to changes in the measure’s tax and energy provisions and was ready to “move forward” on the Inflation Reduction Act.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said lawmakers had achieved a compromise “that I believe will receive the support” of all Democrats in the chamber. His party needs unanimity to move the measure through the 50-50 Senate, along with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
Schumer has said he hopes the Senate can begin voting on the energy, environment, health and tax measure on Saturday. Passage by the House, which Democrats control narrowly, could come next week.
The election-year bill, housing President Joe Biden’s and congressional Democrats’ top priorities, would provide hundreds of billions in spending and tax credits to spur clean energy, reinforce fossil fuels and renew government support for people buying private health insurance. It would raise revenue with tax boosts, beefed up IRS tax collections and curbs on drug prices, which would save money for the government and patients.
“We prioritize the middle class and working families, instead of those at the very top. God bless them, they’re doing fine,” Schumer said.
Democrats need to nail down support from all their lawmakers to prevail in the 50-50 Senate and avoid a glaring self-inflicted defeat, similar to one they suffered last November on a far larger version of the package. Republicans are on track to oppose the legislation as one, saying its tax boosts and spending would worsen inflation and damage the economy.
“What do Democrats want to do with all the money they want to drain out of Americans’ pockets in the midst of a recession?” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “They want to lavish hundreds of billions of dollars on an issue that exactly 3% of the country says is our biggest problem: far-left environmental and climate spending.”
The Senate won’t be in session Friday. That pause will also provide time for the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, to decide if any of the bill’s provisions violate the chamber’s rules and should be removed.
Republicans want to kill as much of the bill as possible, either with MacDonough’s rulings or with nonstop votes expected to last well into Sunday or beyond.
Even if GOP amendments are defeated, they will consider it mission accomplished if they force Democrats to take risky, campaign season votes on touchy issues like taxes, inflation and immigration.
Vice President Kamala Harris can vote to break a 50-50 tie and approve the bill.