Late Saturday night and into Sunday morning, senators voted on amendments to Democrats’ big spending bill covering health care, climate and taxes.
The bill will pass through the budget voting process, which means it will require all 50 Democrats and a casting vote from Vice President Harris since none of the 50 Republican senators will vote in favor of the bill. It also limits the measures in the bill to those that directly alter federal spending and revenue.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Saturday that despite some Senate cuts, the bill overall is still a legislative victory for Democrats.
Democrats have argued that it will address voters’ top economic concerns, calling it an anti-inflation bill. Republicans argue that the new spending will make inflation worse. However, the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office says the bill will have a “negligible” effect on inflation in 2022 and into 2023.
Overall, the bill is a very stripped down solution to what many Democrats, including President Biden, originally called for.
“This law is far from perfect. It’s a compromise. But that’s often how progress is made,” Biden said in the White House last month. “My message to Congress is this is the strongest piece of legislation you can pass.”
After passage in the Senate, the House of Representatives plans to take up the bill later this week and then submit it to President Biden for signature.
Here’s a look at some of what did and didn’t get included in the Democrat bill.
You can view the entire 755-page bill here.
combating climate change
More than $300 billion would be invested in energy and climate reform, the largest federal investment in clean energy in US history.
The bill has the support of many environmental and climate activists, but falls short of the $555 billion Democrats originally called for.
That portion of the bill covers transportation and power generation, and includes $60 billion to expand renewable energy infrastructure in manufacturing, such as solar panels and wind turbines.
It also includes several tax credits for individuals, such as for electric vehicles and improving the energy efficiency of homes.
According to Democrats, the bill would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by the end of the decade from 2005 levels, which is below the 50% Biden originally aimed for.
“It puts us sufficiently far away that further executive branch action, state and local government efforts, and private sector leadership could plausibly get us across the finish line by 2030,” said Jesse Jenkins of Princeton University, who leads the REPEAT project and analyzes the effects of government climate protection measures.
Reducing the cost of prescription drugs
As for healthcare reforms, the bill aims to make prescription drugs more affordable — but there are some limitations.
The bill includes a historic measure that will allow the federal health secretary to negotiate the prices of certain expensive Medicare drugs each year.
But that won’t affect every prescription drug or every patient, and it won’t work quickly. Negotiations will go into effect for 10 Medicare-covered drugs in 2026 and increase to 20 drugs by 2029.
The portion of the bill that attempted to cap the price of insulin — a drug that’s incredibly expensive in the US compared to other countries — to $35 a month was sidelined by the Senateman and is out of reach for now set because it would need 60 votes to pass as regular law.
The MP also ruled that a measure included in the bill to force drug companies to offer discounts when prescription drug prices exceed inflation is not fully compatible with budget balancing rules; She said it might apply to Medicare patients, but not to patients with private insurers.
The bill puts a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for people on Medicare, effective beginning in 2025.
There is also a three-year extension of health care subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, which was originally passed in a pandemic relief bill last year and the government estimates will increase premiums to $10 a month for the vast majority of people covered by federal health insurance or less has held insurance exchange.
This helps millions of Americans avoid spikes in their healthcare costs.
The legislation requires a minimum tax of 15% for companies with income of $1 billion or more, bringing in more than $300 billion in revenue.
One part that has been trimmed, however, is one that has narrowed the carried-interest tax loophole. Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema agreed to sign the law into law if the measure, which would have changed the way private equity income is taxed, is cut. Democrats said it brought in $14 billion in revenue.
Instead, it introduced a 1% excise tax on share buybacks, which could yield about five times the revenue of the carried interest measure. It wouldn’t go into effect until next year, however, raising predictions of a buyback rush by some companies before 2023.
A large part of the bill not included due to opposition from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is the extension of the child tax credit. Manchin said last year that the cost of extending the loan was too high, but progressives, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, have continued to push for its inclusion in the law.
Sanders planned to add it as an amendment to the law during the nightly voting process, even without the support he needs to pass it.