Democrats in the US Senate were brimming with confidence on Saturday as a major part of Joe Biden’s legislative agenda finally looks poised to pass the upper chamber.
The caucus has gathered for a marathon weekend session that will begin on Saturday afternoon and last until 9.00 am on Sunday morning. Republicans have prepared a series of poisonous amendments to the Lower Inflation Act aimed at killing Democratic consensus on the legislation, which is seen as a second attempt to advance parts of Mr. Biden’s signature Build Back Better Act.
Even before the polls began, a handful of Democrats were out with statements on Twitter projecting a united front. Many vowed to vote against any amendment to the package, even those brought by their own Democratic colleagues.
In interviews with more than half a dozen Senate Democrats, The independent confirmed that others are making the same plans. Only a few said they would introduce amendments to the bill themselves, and they weren’t even sure they would ask for floor votes on those amendments.
“My sense is that the people I’ve talked to just want to get a handle on this and be able to go home,” noted Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “I don’t foresee a problem [getting the legislation passed].”
“I don’t believe there will be any amendments to the final package before we vote,” Sen. Alex Padilla, a California Democrat, said on a call with reporters.
Sen. Bob Menendez said only “we’ll see” when asked how united his caucus was against the amendments in the package, noting that he personally wouldn’t vote for any.
Some of those changes are likely to be offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who confirmed it The independent on Saturday that he will seek votes on provisions that would block fossil fuel handouts in the bill and allow Medicare to negotiate insulin prices.
Meanwhile, Republican senators, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a key vote often negotiated across the aisle, told reporters they would also introduce their own amendments. No one showed much confidence that he would see any pass.
But that won’t stop them from trying for hours to sink it. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia quipped that there was a “bipartisan consensus” that the Senate wasn’t going to get much work done for the next 12 hours or so.
Although many of the priorities that Democrats, including Joe Biden, wanted to see in the original Build Back Better Act did not make it into the IRA, the new legislation is still the most significant investment in climate change preparedness of any legislation in the US . history. It also aims to reduce US carbon emissions by 40 percent by the end of the decade.
The deal, negotiated between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and centrist Democrat Joe Manchin, is being heralded as a major victory for their party and an embarrassing defeat for Republicans, who thought they had successfully stopped Biden’s agenda last year.