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The Senate passed Democrats’ social spending and tax bills on Sunday, marking a major victory for the Democratic agenda more than three months before Election Day after a marathon “vote puller” session that lasted more than 15 hours.
Vice President Harris cast a tie vote to allow the legislation to pass by a 51-50 vote.
“I mean, this is the largest climate package ever, and it involves an energy policy that makes sense for his country, lowers energy costs, lowers healthcare costs for millions of Americans, and reduces deficits with way and with tax fairness in our code,” Senator Ben Cardin, MD, told Fox News Digital. “It’s been a great day and we’re very excited about it.”
“It was a victory night for them,” Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley told Fox News Digital. “Schumer has the longest 50-50 Senate seat in history. He passed nearly all of their signature priorities.”
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“And by the way, the most unpopular president of my life,” Hawley added.
The passage of the bill is the culmination of more than a year of intraparty negotiations that Democrats have tried to pass a partisan line bill. They used a process called budget reconciliation, which allowed them to do so by bypassing a Senate filibuster.
But even if the filibuster is avoided, Democrats still have major problems as their efforts to pass it come to an end. If the companies are subsidiaries of a company worth more than that amount, the drafting issue would increase taxes on companies valued below the $1 billion threshold expected by Democrats.
Senator John Thune of RS.D. has proposed an amendment to address the issue at a cost of $35 billion. But his proposal would be paid for by extending the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap for a year. That would complicate passage of the final bill, as many Northeastern Democrats hate the SALT cap.
The Senate passed Thune’s amendment. But it changed how it was paid, using an amendment by Virginia Sen. Mark Warner that replaced the SALT cap with “an extension of the so-called loss limit policy for two years.” The amendment, passed with Harris’ help, cleared the way for eventual passage.
After last-second drama, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) touted the legislation as a major victory for America
“I believe the Reducing Inflation Act will be one of the defining legislative feats of the 21st century,” he said.
Originally dubbed “build back better” when negotiations began last year and proposed spending more than $3 trillion, moderates in the party like Sen. Joe Manchin, Democrat of Virginia, opposed the huge spending. Manchin eventually broke off the talks in December, much to the dismay of progressives in the party and Schumer.
But in recent days, Manchin has agreed to a scaled-down version called the Reduced Inflation Act. Manchin lobbied for moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., to join, and she did so Thursday after making some small changes.
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The bill raised more than $700 billion in taxes and spent more than $400 billion. Key elements include expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies, a range of climate-related spending and tax credits, fossil fuel energy regulations, a 15 percent minimum corporate tax rate, and more.
Before Democrats can pass legislation through the Senate, however, they need to pass a vote. This presents an opportunity for Republicans to propose unlimited politically charged amendments in an attempt to inject a poison pill into the bill, or at least force a hard vote from Democrats.
But Democrats have remained united on every key vote to keep the bill intact, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said, a testament to broad Democrats’ support for the legislation.
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“I think you’d be shocked by how many of these amendments were agreed…. very clear partisan vote,” Coons said at the start of the process. “Much more than I’ve seen in previous polls.”
“They were just rolling tonight,” Hawley said.
The vote did not make a major substantive change to the bill, but it did produce some interesting 2022 campaign fodder. Republicans have forced Democrats into tough votes on energy taxes and Section 42 immigration — an issue on which some re-elected Democrats have publicly broken with the White House.
In both cases, Democrats unanimously defeated Republican amendments by a partisan vote of 50 to 50 before introducing similar amendments that required 60 procedural votes to pass. That frees up moderates and Democrats in their tough re-election campaign to vote for the amendments, knowing they won’t pass.
Republicans slammed the moves as dishonest.
“It must be a very cynical tactic,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.) told Fox News Digital. “Vote yes at 60 after you just voted no at 51. But nothing surprises me here.”
“They’re completely deceitful,” Rick Scott, chairman of the Florida Republican National Senate Committee, also told Fox News Digital.
“It gives false and cynical people a bad name. They won’t let you do that in professional wrestling,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C. “If you think people are this stupid, you’re dead wrong.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan, DN.H., who is herself preparing to be re-elected, rebutted Graham’s criticism in a speech.
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“I will note inaccuracies on the floor about the substance of this matter,” she said.
Republicans also criticized the substance of the bill, including raising taxes during a recession, and multiple outside observers saying it would not have a major impact on inflation.
Democrats, meanwhile, have accused Republicans of maliciously introducing all amendments. DW.Va. Sen. Joe Manchin said before the final vote that he would not support any GOOP amendments because Republicans plan to vote unanimously against the bill.
“[M]y R friends have made it clear that they are completely unwilling to support this bill under any circumstances. None of their amendments will change that.For this reason, I will vote to protect [Inflation Reduction Act] Regardless of the content of their bogus amendment,” Manchin tweeted Saturday.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., on Friday to pass the bill and send it to President Biden’s desk.