The Senate has passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a $740 billion bill for climate change and health care spending that has been the result of months of talks in the Democratic Party.
No Republican lawmakers signed the bill, although Democrats were able to pass it with a simple majority through the budget reconciliation process.
Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote in the evenly divided chamber as Democrats erupted in applause at the end of their 16-hour session.
A visibly emotional Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor to thank everyone from congressional staffers to Capitol cafeteria workers for helping with the effort, saying: “You’ll tell your grandkids you were here.”
It’s a major victory for the Democratic agenda, whose prospects in the looming midterm elections had looked dim for months.
Lawmakers had been debating the package since 11pm on Saturday and continued into Sunday afternoon without stopping.
But Republicans have accused Democrats of misleading the American public with the legislation’s name, saying it won’t help skyrocketing inflation and citing a study that says it could raise taxes at every income bracket.
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida called the bill a “war on the elderly” during an interview with CBS News’ Face The Nation and claimed it would increase Medicare costs.
“Right now, this bill should be called the war on the elderly bill. I mean, this is a war on Medicare. If you look at this. It’s a $280 billion cut to Medicare Scott said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Connecticut admitted to ABC News this week that the bill could take “a year or more” to reduce inflation.
“But look … we’ve seen gas prices go down week after week after week for the last five straight weeks,” Coons defended.
The bill passed 50-50 with an amendment by Republican Sen. John Thune, who did not vote on the final package.
Vice President Kamala Harris voted for the tiebreaker in an evenly divided Senate
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now leading Democrats through the hours-long branch voting process after finally reaching an agreement on a budget bill with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin .
“Yes, inflation is higher than it should be, but we just got a robust jobs number, over 500,000 jobs created last month. Unemployment is the lowest in my lifetime. And I think we have a strong economy, a strong recovery underway.”
Host Margaret Brennan cut Scott off during her CBS interview when she claimed that “Medicare is going to be stuck and there will be seniors not getting life-saving drugs.”
“Reducing the cost of Medicare is not the same as reducing the benefits, but, you know,” Brennan said.
Scott replied, “Margaret, that’s $280 billion that would have been spent.” It was expected to be spent. It will not be spent now. And the drug companies that would be doing more research won’t be able to spend the money on research.”
The climate change and health care bill, which includes roughly $433 billion in new spending, was crafted in secret talks between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Democratic Sen. , Joe Manchin.
The final bill passed with an amendment from Senate GOP Whip John Thune that would have made exceptions to the 15 percent minimum corporate tax rate.
Earlier Sunday, Senate Republicans had successfully forced Democrats to remove a provision from their package that would have capped the price of insulin for all Americans at just $35.
Senators were inside the US Capitol from Saturday night into Sunday morning voting on dozens of amendments to the Democrats’ spending bill, in a lengthy process known as a vote-a-rama.
Democrats had left the insulin cap in the bill despite the Senate lawmaker’s ruling that it violates the rules of the budget reconciliation process through which the legislation is being passed.
Republicans raised a point of order on Sunday, forcing a floor vote on whether to override the House.
Ultimately, the measure fell three votes short of the necessary 60-vote threshold. Forty-three lawmakers voted to lower the price cap.
“Three Republican votes are all it took to cap insulin at $35,” progressive Rep. Ruben Gallego wrote on Twitter, lamenting the defeat.
“The sad part is that the GOP could have voted yes on this amendment and voted no on the whole law and people would have affordable insulin. But let’s face it, they just wanted to be jerks.
The seven Republican senators who voted to keep the insulin cap are: Susan Collins, Josh Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith, John Kennedy, Bill Cassidy, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.
“Republicans just blocked us capping the price of insulin for all Americans at $35 a month,” Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote on Twitter. “We have already seen too many people risk their lives and health by rationing insulin they cannot afford. It is unthinkable that we allow this tragedy to continue.”