October 3, 2022

The time-consuming and demanding process is one of the last hurdles for Democrats, along with Senate congressional review of the package.

Politically, a tie-breaking vote gives Republicans an opportunity to sow discord and create distractions as they force Democrats to vote on controversial issues. But, once it’s over, Democrats have a chance to advance their package on a straight party-line vote that won’t be subject to the filibuster’s 60-vote limit.

Typically in the legislative process, lawmakers can use a number of procedural maneuvers to avoid passing amendments. But in a budget reconciliation process — which Democrats are using to push their bill — you can’t do that.

Lawmakers cannot take a final vote on a reconciliation bill until all amendments are “dismissed,” or more simply, “voted.”

The practice involves votes on a series of amendments that can – and usually do – stretch for hours.

How do legislators use the process?

The party in charge usually wants this vote-a-rama to proceed as quickly as possible with as few votes as possible. The minority party takes the opportunity to force votes on all kinds of measures that they normally don’t have the power to put on the floor.

How long does it take for each vote?

Typically, lawmakers agree to a process that looks a lot like this.

  • The legislator introduces an amendment (sometimes just written on a piece of paper).
  • There is a minute of debate shared equally by each side.
  • 10 minutes to vote.

Each amendment takes about 15 minutes to complete. The process moves quickly by Senate standards, which is why it’s so important for members to basically stay in or near the chamber for the entire marathon event.

What does the bill include?

The bill contains a number of Democrats’ goals, including some provisions that party leaders have worked on for years:
  • Medicare drug price negotiation. The bill would authorize Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain expensive drugs that are dispensed in doctor’s offices or bought at the pharmacy.
  • Inflation cap. The legislation would also penalize drug companies if they raise their prices faster than inflation.
  • Tax provisions: To boost revenue, the bill would impose a 15% minimum tax on corporations, which would raise $313 billion over a decade.
  • Climate provisions: The deal would be the largest climate investment in US history. It would cut US carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office said.
However, this is not Build Back Better 2.0. The package is less than half the size of Biden’s original social safety net plan, and some key Democratic priorities are likely to be left out.

CNN’s Tami Luhby and Katie Lobosco contributed to this report.

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