Senate Democrats have agreed on their reformsthey announced late Thursday, clearing a major hurdle in pushing one of President Joe Biden’s key election-year priorities through the chamber in the coming days.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a centrist who is seen as a key vote, said in a statement that she had agreed to changes to the measure’s tax and energy rules and was ready to make changes in the measure..
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said lawmakers had reached a compromise “that I believe will have the support of all Democrats in the House.” His party needs a unanimous 50-50 Senate vote to pass the measure, as well as a run-off vote for Vice President Kamala Harris.
Schumer has said he expects the Senate to begin voting on energy, environment, health and tax measures on Saturday. The House, which Democrats barely control, could pass it next week.
The election-year bill, a top priority for President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats, would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in spending and tax credits to stimulate clean energy, strengthen fossil fuels and restore government support for people who buy private health insurance . It will boost revenue by raising taxes, strengthening the IRS and suppressing drug prices, which will save the government and patients money.
“We’re prioritizing the middle class and working families, not those at the top. God bless them, they’re doing well,” Schumer said.
Democrats will need the support of all lawmakers to win the 50-50 Senate and avoid a stark self-inflicted defeat similar to the one suffered last November in a larger version of the package. Republicans will oppose the legislation, saying its tax increases and spending would fuel inflation and hurt the economy.
“What do Democrats want with all the money out of Americans’ pockets during a recession?” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “They want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on an issue that exactly 3 percent of the country believes is our biggest problem: extreme left environmental and climate spending.”
The Senate will not meet on Friday. The suspension will also provide time for Senator Elizabeth McDonald to decide whether any provisions of the bill violate the Chamber’s rules and should be removed.
Republicans want to kill as much of the bill as possible, either through McDonough’s ruling or an uninterrupted vote expected to run into Sunday or beyond.
Even if the Republican amendments are voted down, Democrats will consider the mission accomplished if they force a risky campaign-season vote on sensitive issues like taxes, inflation and immigration.
Vice President Kamala Harris could vote to break the 50-50 tie and approve the bill.