More than a year after negotiations began on the legislation, Senate Democrats have finally gotten all 50 of them on board for a budget deal that would fund several of President Joe Biden’s key priorities and give them policy victories for the climate and health care before the midterm elections.
On Thursday, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) indicated he would support the latest iteration of the legislation, known as the Deflation Act, paving the way for a vote this weekend. Sinema, a longtime supporter of the bill, was the last lawmaker needed by Senate Democrats after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he was willing to move forward.
The bill also mostly passed its review by the Senate congressman, a nonpartisan expert on rules that determines whether the policies in the bill qualify for the reconciliation process that Democrats want to use. He signed off on most of the provisions in it, meaning he can move through the reconciliation process that allows the legislation to pass with just 51 votes — so no Republican support is needed.
The next step to a Senate vote is a lengthy debate and amendment process known as a vote-a-rama, when any senator can propose additions to the bill and force others to make awkward votes. It could go on for a while, but the bill is still on track for a vote this weekend.
What’s in the bill?
While this legislation is only a fraction of what Democrats originally proposed when they began this process, it still includes significant climate investments, as well as major proposals on health care and taxation. In total, it is expected to include more than $400 billion in spending
Sinema’s support for the bill came with some strings attached. She said in her statement of support that the legislation would no longer close the carried interest tax loophole, a change she has long opposed that would have taxed money managers’ income at the same rate as other income. This provision was replaced by a 1 percent excise tax on share buybacks, which is expected to offset the revenue generated by the carried interest provision.
The bill now includes provisions for the following:
- Health Care, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and extending ACA subsidies for three more years.
- taxes, including a new 15 percent corporate minimum tax, funding for IRS enforcement and a new 1 percent excise tax on stock buybacks.
- Climate, including clean energy tax credits, environmental justice grants, and drought resilience funding.
The Vox staff has an exhaustive look at how each will work here.
Now that they have the congressman’s guidance, lawmakers are updating the bill to remove the policies that didn’t pass.
After Democrats come up with a final version signed by the congressman, they can then begin the voting process. They will first hold a procedural vote late Saturday that will begin 20 hours of debate on the bill, and then conduct a process known as a vote-a-rama, when any senator can propose amendments to legislation. Republicans are widely expected to use these amendments to put Democrats on the spot: Last year, for example, they forced Democrats to vote on issues where the party is divided, such as packing the Supreme Court.
Once the vote-a-rama is complete, lawmakers can then move on to a final vote on the bill, which could come as soon as Sunday. After the Senate approves the legislation, it heads to the House, which is expected to adjourn from the August recess to vote on it later this month.
Democrats also need most of their members in the lower house, where they could soon have a four-vote margin. That’s enough, some of the moderate members who previously opposed the bill if it did not include the reinstatement of the state and local income tax (SALT) deduction, have said they are still willing to support the legislation, a sign that it is likely to have the support needed to pass. In addition, progressive members, who have pushed back against abatement policies in the past, have also broadly expressed their support.
“When they send it to us, we’re going to pass it,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a press conference last week.
Update, August 6, 15:00: This story has been updated to reflect the senator’s decision.