Democrats could see heart-pounding clash with Sanders over economic bill

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Democrats are bracing for a grueling weekend of vote-a-rama in hopes of finally passing their long-sought economic law called the Inflation Reduction Act.

Republicans have vowed to force a string of hard votes against the plan. But some of the most painful voices from lawmakers may come from one of the Senate’s most forward-thinking crusaders.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he plans to put senators on the map with proposed amendments to Democrats’ sprawling tax, health care and climate bill as the Senate prepares to wrap up its marathon voting session to blow.

Sanders was key to helping draft the Democrats’ earlier Build Back Better Act and has made a fuss about the scaled-down Inflation Reduction Act. But his chance to force votes on the ground on important issues important to progressives could lead to a headache for the party.

While Sanders expressed his satisfaction with certain parts of the narrower plan in floor remarks earlier this week, he also made sharp comments about the bill, which he says “does virtually nothing to address the massive crises facing working families across this country today.” faced.”

The Vermont senator specifically announced that he would table an amendment “to ensure that Medicare does not pay more for prescription drugs than the [Veterans Affairs]. He also urged measures to provide “comprehensive dental vision and hearing benefits,” in addition to lowering “the Medicare eligibility age to at least 60” and expanding Medicare’s solvency.

“Since this is the last reconciliation bill we’ll consider this year, it’s the only chance we have to do something important for the American people that only takes 50 votes and can’t be filibusted,” he said. floor of the upper room.

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Sanders told The Hill on Thursday that he is still finalizing his amendments and is looking at areas such as “health care, childcare and a few other things.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) announced a deal with Senator Joe Manchin (TUSEN.Va.) on the bill last week, months after discussions on the Build Back Better Act largely fell apart amid opposition from the United States. West Virginia centric.

Among the measures tucked into the new deal are billion-dollar investments in climate programs, text aimed at lowering the prices of prescription drugs, and measures to extend health care subsidies.

The bill also includes tax measures targeting large corporations that Democrats say are intended to generate revenue to reduce the country’s deficit and, in turn, fight inflation. However, there is debate among experts about how much the bill would affect rising costs.

The agreement between Manchin and Schumer was a welcome surprise to Democrats. But many Democrats say they wanted much more.

“It’s not everything we want, but it’s pretty rare that you get everything you want in a single bill,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told reporters on Thursday, highlighting the “powerful progressive priorities we’re looking for.” about to pass Congress.”

The new bill contained some of the provisions Democrats previously sought as part of Build Back Better, but is a fraction of the earlier plan, which initially included Sanders’ proposal to expand Medicare to include dental, hearing, and facial treatments for recipients, as well as measures seeking historic investments in housing, childcare, education and other party-backed priorities.

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“It’s been a long dry spell and I’m excited about what we’re about to get done,” said Warren, adding that she won’t table any amendments.

Democrats hope to approve the plan using a process known as budget reconciliation, which will allow the party to pass legislation by a simple majority, bypassing the usual 60-vote filibuster.

But to use the procedure, which has strict rules about how it can be deployed, Democrats have a list of hurdles to overcome before they can put the bill to the vote. That includes what’s known as vote-a-rama — where senators can offer a series of amendments to influence legislation before a final vote on the overall bill.

Senators don’t expect the vote-a-rama itself to attract much public attention, but the votes that come out of it can.

Republicans, overwhelmingly against the plan, have been sharpening their knives ahead of the event. They plan to put forward a series of hard votes for Democrats that can be used as ammunition as the midterm elections approach.

The last time Congress saw a vote-a-rama for a reconciliation bill was last year, when Democrats used fiscal reconciliation to pass the US bailout, a sweeping coronavirus relief bill.

At the time, Sanders introduced an amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But the amendment was expected to fail after the senate MP, who decides which legislation complies with the reconciliation rules, found the pay increase to be inconsistent.

Sanders had insisted that the MP be overruled. However, the amendment was not passed after eight Democratic Republicans voted down the proposal.

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Some Democrats say they could support Sanders’ new proposals but may not survive if they jeopardize the chances of passing the larger bill as Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) bold red lines have drawn on certain measures.

“Of course, I will most likely agree with Senator Sanders’ bills, but there’s nothing we can do to jeopardize this basic bill,” Senator Cory Booker (DN.J.) told The Hill on Thursday when he was pressed for the bill. Sanders comments. “And we have to be very vigilant about that, because we’ve heard very clearly that many of our Democratic partners don’t want to support that.”

“The outcome I would like is for us to vote on the bill and actually move forward with it,” D-Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono told The Hill. “So, as much as I like Bernie and all that, I don’t know what his amendment is. It depends on what it is, maybe I’ll vote for it.”

sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) also acknowledged the wafer-thin majority that Senate Democrats must work with to pass the bill, while urging the party to stay united as they approach the finish line.

“I think at the end of the day we recognize; we need 50 votes to pass this bill, and we’re going to have a strategy for that to be effective,” Cardin told The Hill. “So we recognize that we may have some challenges with amendments, but in the end we all have to come together.”

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