US Senate Democrats are pushing for a $430 billion drug and power invoice

WASHINGTON, Aug 6 (Reuters) – US Senate Democrats embark on one of their most critical missions of Joe Biden’s presidency on Saturday: tackling climate change, cutting energy bills and medicines for the elderly and forcing the wealthy to pay more taxes to count.

They hope passage of the $430 billion law will give a boost to Democratic nominees for the Senate and House of Representatives as the Nov. 8 congressional elections draw closer and inflation remains a top concern among voters.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference Friday. “For years, many in Washington have promised to address some of the greatest challenges facing our nation, only to fail… This is a very, very, very big deal.”

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Republicans have vowed to do whatever they can to halt or block the bill, with Sen. Lindsey Graham on Friday calling the legislation “this jihad they want to tax and spend.”

But Democrats are betting they can ram it through the Senate using a mysterious and complicated “reconciliation” procedure that allows passage without Republican support in a 50-50 split Senate.

Senator Ron Wyden, chair of the Treasury Committee, said through a spokesman that Democrats received the necessary approval overnight to proceed with the energy portions of the bill.

There was no word yet on whether the Senate lawmaker — the arbiter who will decide whether Democrats can pass the bill as written over Republican objections — had approved the health regulations.

‘VOTE-A-RAMA’

Saturday will usher in an arduous process that could stretch into early next week, in which senators will offer change after change in a time-consuming “vote-a-rama.”

Progressive Democrats like Bernie Sanders are likely to seek to expand the bill’s scope to include new programs such as federal grants for child care or home health care for the elderly.

Republicans have signaled they will introduce numerous amendments that touch on another voter concern: immigrants crossing the southwestern border with Mexico.

This bill consists of three main parts, which originally included a $430 billion award for new government investment and more than $740 billion in new revenue, including a 15% minimum tax on corporations, stricter enforcement by the IRS and a new excise tax on share buybacks . The final price is subject to change. Continue reading

In addition to billions of dollars to encourage the production and purchase of more electric vehicles and promote clean energy, the bill would provide $4 billion in new federal funding for drought relief. The latter is a move that could help the re-election campaigns of Democratic Senators Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada and Mark Kelly in Arizona.

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reporting by Richard Cowan; Edited by Scott Malone and Andrew Heavens

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