The package is the product of painstaking negotiations and will give Democrats a chance to achieve important policy goals ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. Senate Democrats are using a special process to pass the package without Republican votes.
Once the legislation passes the Senate, it must then be approved by the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.
The Senate is expected to take the first procedural vote to move the bill forward sometime Saturday. A simple majority is required for the motion to proceed.
Democrats control the narrowest possible majority and only 50 seats in the Senate, but are expected to unite to advance the bill to the initial procedural vote.
Schumer has not yet decided on the exact time he plans to begin the debate this weekend, according to a senior Democratic adviser. The timing of this vote is key because it will start the process and determine when the bill will finally get its final vote. If Schumer waits for that first vote to open debate, he could delay the rest of the votes on the bill until late Saturday or even all of Sunday.
The reason Democratic leaders haven’t decided yet is that they’re waiting for congressman’s decisions. While they don’t need her to rule before the first procedural vote, Democrats aim to make any changes she asks before the process begins, the aide said. As a result, the timing of the votes on the amendments and the final passage of the bill is very much in flux.
What happens after the first basic passage of the bill
If the first procedural vote to advance the bill receives the support of all 50 members of the House Democratic caucus, which is expected, then there will be up to 20 hours of debate split evenly between the two parties, although in some cases it could returned to speed up the process.
Republicans will be able to use vote-a-rama to put Democrats on the spot and force politically tough votes. The process usually extends through the night and into the early hours of the next morning. It is not yet clear when exactly the voting-a-rama will begin, but it could start as early as Saturday night. If that happens, a final vote could potentially take place as early as Sunday morning.
The House is set to return to take up the legislation on Friday, August 12, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office.
How the bill addresses the climate crisis
For a party that failed to pass major climate legislation 10 years ago, the reconciliation bill represents a major, long-term victory for Democrats.
The nearly $370 billion clean energy and climate package is the largest climate investment in US history and the biggest win for the environmental movement since the landmark Clean Air Act. It also comes at a critical time; This summer has seen punishing heat waves and deadly floods across the country, which scientists say are linked to a warming planet.
The analysis by Schumer’s office — as well as several independent analyzes — suggests the measures would cut U.S. carbon emissions by as much as 40 percent by 2030. It would take strong climate regulations from the Biden administration and action by states to meet Biden’s goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.
The bill also contains several tax incentives intended to lower the cost of electricity with more renewable energy and encourage more American consumers to switch to electricity to power their homes and vehicles.
Lawmakers said the bill represents a monumental victory and is also just the beginning of what is needed to combat the climate crisis.
“It’s not about the laws of politics, it’s about the laws of physics,” Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii told CNN. “We all knew going into this effort that we had to do what the science tells us what to do.”
Basic health care and tax policy in the bill
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. The Health and Human Services secretary would negotiate the prices of 10 drugs in 2026 and another 15 drugs in 2027 and again in 2028. The number would increase to 20 drugs per year for 2029 and beyond.
That controversial provision is much more limited than what House Democratic leaders have previously advocated. But it would open the door to fulfilling a long-held party goal of allowing Medicare to use its weight to lower drug costs.
Democrats also plan to extend enhanced federal premium subsidies for Obamacare coverage through 2025, a year later than lawmakers recently discussed. That way they won’t expire right after the 2024 presidential election.
To boost revenue, the bill would impose a minimum tax of 15 percent on the income that big companies report to shareholders, known as accounting income, unlike the Internal Revenue Service. The measure, which would raise $258 billion over a decade, would apply to companies with more than $1 billion in revenue.
Worried about how that provision would affect some businesses, especially manufacturers, Sinema suggested he won changes to the Democratic plan to limit how companies can deduct depreciated assets on their taxes. Details remain unclear.
But Sinema blasted her party’s bid to close the carried interest loophole, which allows investment managers to treat much of their compensation as capital gains and pay a long-term capital gains tax rate of 20% instead of income tax rates of up to 37 %.
The provision would have extended the amount of time investment managers must hold their profits from three years to five years to benefit from the lower tax rate. Addressing that gap, which would have raised $14 billion over a decade, has been a long-term goal of congressional Democrats.
In its place, a 1 percent excise tax was added on corporate stock buybacks, raising another $74 billion, according to a Democratic aide.
CNN’s Manu Raju, Ella Nilsen, Tami Luhby, Katie Lobosco and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.