Senate sets up first vote Saturday on Schumer-Manchin deal
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the Senate will begin consideration of a $740 billion budget reconciliation package that would reform the tax code and tackle climate change on Saturday afternoon, setting up a weekend of around-the-clock votes.
“For the information of Senators, the Senate will next convene on Saturday at noon. The next vote will be at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, on a motion to discharge a nomination. We expect to vote on the motion to proceed to the reconciliation legislation on Saturday afternoon,” Schumer announced on the floor.
If a majority of senators vote to proceed to the legislation, they will then debate for up to 20 hours before holding an open-ended series of votes, known as a vote-a-rama, before a final up-or-down vote, which is now expected Sunday or perhaps early Monday morning.
The announcement signals that Schumer expects Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to vote with all 49 other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to proceed to the legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, which would spend $369 billion on an energy and climate program and spend more than $300 billion to reduce the deficit.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation will reduce the deficit by roughly $100 billion over the next decade.
Sinema is still negotiating to make changes to the legislation, according to people familiar with the discussion, but it appears Schumer is optimistic he can strike a deal with her before the package comes to final vote on the floor.
The senator spent part of Thursday afternoon holed up in her hideaway office in the basement of the Capitol, with a crowd of photographers waiting outside her door hoping to catch her heading to the floor.
She declined to answer reporters’ questions about what changes she is trying to make in the bill.
Sources familiar with the negotiations say Sinema opposes a provision to close the carried interest tax loophole, which allows asset managers to pay capital-gains tax rates on income earned from profitable investments. It was dropped from a House bill last year after Sinema expressed her opposition.
A senator briefed on the negotiations confirmed that Sinema also wants to add $5 billion in drought resiliency funding to the package.
Democrats had initially hoped to begin debate on the budget reconciliation package on Thursday or Friday, but that ambitious schedule is slipping because of how much time it’s taking to vet the bill with the Senate parliamentarian and to negotiate the final details with Sinema.
“It’s slipping, slipping badly,” said one Democratic senator of the plan to pass the budget reconciliation bill as quickly as possible.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) joked that he saw the bill coming to a vote “in the next two to seven days.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said Schumer has told colleagues to expect to work through the weekend.
Mychael Schnell contributed
Updated: 4:22 p.m.