WASHINGTON, Aug 5 – U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, said on Thursday she had agreed to “move forward” on the $430 billion drug, energy, and tax bill, provided the bill is cleared by a Senate arbitrator, which Democrats intend to pass. over Republican objections.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier Thursday that the chamber would meet Saturday to vote on the continuation motion and then begin debate on the bill.
The bill known as the Lower Inflation Act, introduced last week by Schumer and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, is a key priority for Democrats and President Joe Biden ahead of the November election battle for control of the US Congress.
The law will help people save money on prescription drugs and health premiums, Biden said in a statement Thursday.
“It will make our tax system fairer because corporations will pay minimal taxes,” he said.
With the 100-member Senate split 50-50, Democrats plan to pass the bill without Republican support through a parliamentary process known as reconciliation.
But they cannot afford to lose the support of a single legislator. The Sinema deal was a breakthrough. Another concern is COVID-19 — senators can only vote in person, so Schumer will need his full caucus present and healthy to pass the measure if Republicans remain united in opposition.
Sinema said she reached an agreement with other Democrats to eliminate a provision that would have imposed new taxes on carried interest. Without this provision, private equity and hedge fund financiers may continue to pay a lower rate of capital gains tax on much of their income instead of the higher rate of income tax paid by self-employed individuals.
She noted that her approval to “move forward” is subject to review by a member of the Senate. A lawmaker must approve the bill’s content to move forward through a “reconciliation” process that Democrats plan to use to bypass normal chamber rules that require 60 senators to agree to advance most legislation.
In a statement, Schumer said he believes he now has the votes to pass the bill.
“The deal preserves major components of the inflation-reduction law, including reducing prescription drug costs, fighting climate change, closing tax loopholes used by large corporations and the wealthy, and reducing the deficit by $300 billion,” Schumer said.