Senate Democrats Near Passage on Health and Climate Bill After Overnight ‘Vote-a-Rama’

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Democrats drove their election-year economic package toward Senate approval early on Sunday morning and debated a smaller measure than one that was proposed by President Joe Biden.

“I think it’s gonna pass,” Biden told reporters as he left the White House early Sunday to go to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claimed that the bill-—slated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars—”will reduce inflation.”

“It will close tax loopholes and it will reduce and reduce the deficit,” Schumer added. “It will help every citizen in this country and make America a much better place.”

Republicans said the measure would undermine an economy that policymakers are struggling to keep from plummeting into recession. They said the bill’s business taxes would hurt job creation and force prices skyward, making it harder for people to cope with the nation’s worst inflation since the 1980s.

“Democrats have already robbed American families once through inflation, and now their solution is to rob American families a second time,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor.

Spending and tax increases in the legislation would eliminate jobs while having an insignificant impact on inflation and climate change, the Kentucky Republican leader said.

Starting on Saturday night, the Senate began its so-called “vote-a-rama” that comes before the final passage in the Senate’s budget reconciliation process. Democrats are using the process to pass the bill along party lines so as to avoid the 60-vote filibuster, and throughout the night, Vice President Kamala Harris served as a tie-breaker for Democrats on several amendments in the 50–50 Senate.

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The bill came to the floor about a week after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced he came to an agreement with Schumer in what is believed to be an attempt to boost Democrats’ and Biden’s chances during the 2022 midterms amid months of negative polling. Biden’s original climate and social measure collapsed after Manchin opposed it, saying it was too costly and would fuel inflation.

By Jack Phillips

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