Senate parliamentarian gives OK for climate, tax, health bill to proceed
The Senate parliamentarian has given the green light to a $740 billion budget reconciliation bill that will reform the tax code, tackle climate change and lower drug prices, putting the Senate on track to begin voting on the bill Saturday afternoon.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Saturday that the bill is on track to pass this weekend now that the parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has ruled that its provisions comply with the budgetary rules enabling it to circumvent a GOP filibuster.
“Our meetings with the parliamentarian have now largely concluded, and we thank her and her staff for their hard work and diligence on such a large bill in such a short period of time,” he said. “Now that our meetings with the parliamentarian have largely concluded, we have a bill before us that can win the support of all 50 Democrats.”
Schumer said the bill’s major provisions remain “largely intact,” though the parliamentarian did strike a provision that would have limited prescription drug price increases to the rate of inflation. The Senate rules official allowed to the inflation cap to be applied for Medicare beneficiaries but ruled out extending the cap to people with private health insurance.
The Democratic leader said senators should expect to vote sometime Saturday afternoon to begin debate on the legislation.
“In a few hours, we will formally begin the process of passing the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 by voting on the motion to proceed,” Schumer said.
That will then trigger up to 20 hours of floor debate, followed by votes on an open-ended series of amendments that could last throughout the night and into Sunday morning.
Schumer told colleagues they should expect to keep voting until the bill is finished, likely sometime Sunday.
“It will help just about every citizen in this country and make America a much better place. We are not leaving until the job is done,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the floor after Schumer to blast the legislation for containing “hundreds of billions of dollars in tax hikes and hundreds of billions of dollars in reckless spending.”
McConnell took aim at the proposal to curb the costs of prescription drugs, which he warned would stifle how much money will go into future research.
“The government can’t actually make something cost less by making it illegal to raise its price. This is the logic of college sophomore socialism,” he said.
“The policy would bring about a world where many fewer drugs and treatments get invented in the first place as companies cut back on [research and development],” he said.