Senate ‘vote-a-rama’ continues as Democrats watch finish line for sweeping climate and health care bill


The Senate continues to work on a series of back-to-back amendment votes on Sunday as Democrats hope to pass their extensive healthcare and climate program.

The amendment process, known on Capitol Hill like a “vote-a-ramabegan Saturday night shortly after 11:30 p.m. ET. A final vote on the bill will take place at the end of the amendment votes, the timing of which is not yet clear.

The bill – named the Inflation Reduction Act – would represent the largest climate investment in US history and make major changes to health policy by giving Medicare the power for the first time negotiate prices certain prescription drugs and extending expiring health care subsidies for three years. The legislation would impose new taxes to pay for this.

The package is the product of painstaking negotiations and will give Democrats a chance to achieve major political goals ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.

Once the legislation passes the Senate, it will then need to be approved by the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can sign it. The House is set to return to consider the legislation this Friday, according to the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Senate Democrats only need a simple majority for the bill to finally pass as they use a process known as reconciliation, which allows them to avoid a Republican obstruction and the corresponding threshold of 60 votes.

In order to pass an invoice through the reconciliation process, however, the package must adhere to a strict set of budget rules. And Republicans are using vote-a-rama to put Democrats on the spot and force politically difficult votes.

As expected, key insulin provisions were removed from the bill after Republicans raised a point of order, prompting a vote to remove them.

The final vote was 57-43. A threshold of 60 votes was needed to keep the provision in place.

Provisions originally included in the bill would have limited insulin prices to $35 per month in the private insurance market as well as through Medicare. But the Senate congressman ruled that the insulin cap on the private insurance market was inconsistent with the reconciliation rules that Democrats use to push their legislation through the House.

Democrats still retained both provisions in the bill, but Republicans raised a point of order to force a vote to remove the private-market-only provisions. Medicare’s $35 insulin cap remains in place.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats were considering making late changes to the bill’s tax provisions before the chamber’s expected vote on the package on Sunday afternoon, according to Democratic Sen. of West Virginia Joe Manchin. It’s unclear exactly what is being discussed or how significant the changes would be. Manchin suggested Democrats could move an amendment on the floor to reflect those changes.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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