WASHINGTON – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said Thursday that she would “move forward” on a sweeping package of initiatives to combat climate change, lower drug prices and pare back the deficit, giving Senate Democrats the votes they need to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.
Sinema, the last Democratic holdout on the bill, said she negotiated the removal of a provision to increase taxes on carried interests targeting wealthy investors, resolving a key difference that had held back her support.
“Subject to the parliamentarian’s review, I’ll move forward,” Sinema said in a statement.
Her backing sets up a final version of the bill to be introduced Saturday and the likelihood of a major legislative win for President Joe Biden.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday he’s “pleased to report that we have reached an agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act that I believe will receive the support of the entire Senate Democratic conference.”
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Sinema’s agreement with Schumer includes a new excise tax on stock buybacks that would bring in more tax revenue than the carried interest provision, according to a Democratic source familiar with the negotiations.
Schumer said Friday that Sinemarefused to proceed with negotiations unless the carried interest provision was removed. And the Democrats need every vote in the 50-50 chamber.
“So we had no choice,” Schumer said.
Democrats hope to pass the bill on a party-line vote through a process known as budget reconciliation that would allow approval with a simple majority and avoid the 60-vote threshold to overcome a Republican filibuster. It would need the votes of all Democrats in the evenly divided Senate and then a tiebreaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.
As of 1 p.m. Friday, Schumer said the Senate parliamentarian was still reviewing the bill to determine whether it can be considered under the reconciliation rules and is expected to issue a decision soon.
The Democratic leader said the Senate is on track to begin consideration of the bill on Saturday. Republicans are expected to introduce a large number of amendments that could prolong the process.
“There are things that some of our Republican colleagues can demand that would take time, that we’re not sure they’ll do or not,” Schumer said.
“Tonight, we’ve taken another critical step toward reducing inflation and the cost of living for America’s families,” Biden said in a statement late Thursday. “I look forward to the Senate taking up this legislation and passing it as soon as possible.”
Sinema, a thorn to the White House on several policy proposals over the past year, had refused to talk about the legislation publicly for more than a week since Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Schumer announced a deal on the measure.
The legislation would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices – long opposed by the pharmaceutical industry – and extend Affordable Care Act subsidies through 2025.
To address climate change, the bill would provide billions in tax credits to develop and expand clean energy transmission infrastructure, including programs to help Americans buy electric vehicles that would help Biden’s goal of significant cabin carbon emissions reduction over the decade. To pay for the measures, the bill would establish a 15% corporate minimum tax and beef up enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service.
The bill would raise an estimated $739 billion in new tax revenue, more than offsetting the $433 billion in proposed new spending. The legislation would decrease the federal deficit by $102 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
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Last year, Manchin and Sinema balked at several measures in Biden’s more expansive Build Back Better legislation that sought to overhaul the social safety net, and the bill stalled. They also opposed the president’s push for carve-outs to the Senate filibuster to pass voting legislation and protect abortion access.
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