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US Democrats push health priorities for Senate approval

WASHINGTON –

Democrats pushed their election-year economic package toward Senate approval early Sunday, arguing for a measure less ambitious than initially envisioned domestically. US President Joe Biden. However, it touches on the party’s deep-seated dreams of slowing global warming, curbing drug costs and taxing big corporations.

Debates began Saturday, and by early Sunday morning, Democrats had contested more than a dozen Republican amendments designed to circumvent the law or create offensive campaign ads. Democratic Senators. Despite the GOP’s unanimous opposition, the Democrats’ unity in the 50-50 room – spurred by Vice President Kamala Harris’s breakthrough vote – shows the party is on track to win the election. boost morale three months from the election when parliamentary control is at stake.

“I think it will pass,” Biden told reporters as he left the White House early Sunday morning for Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, ending his COVID-19 isolation. The House of Representatives appears to be on track to provide final congressional approval when it returns shortly after the summer break on Friday.

“It’s going to bring down inflation. It’s going to lower the cost of prescription drugs. It’s going to fight climate change. It’s going to close the tax loopholes and it’s going to reduce the deficit,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. DN.Y., said about the drug package. “It will help every citizen in this country and make America a much better place.”

Republicans said the measure would weaken an economy that policymakers are struggling to avoid falling into a sharp recession. They say the bill’s business tax would hurt job creation and force prices to soar, making it difficult for residents to cope with the nation’s worst inflation since the 1980s.

“Democrats robbed American families once due to inflation, and now their solution is to rob American families a second time,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R. -Ky, reasoning. He said spending and tax increases in the law would eliminate jobs while having negligible impact on inflation and climate change.

Nonpartisan analysts say the Democrats’ “Inflation Reduction Act” will have a small impact on rising consumer prices. The bill is just one-tenth of Biden’s original 10-year, $3.5 trillion progressive aspiration, and waives proposals for universal preschool, paid leave and hospital expansion. child care assistance.

Even so, the new measure gives Democrats an intro during the campaign season to act on coveted targets. It includes the largest-ever federal climate change effort – nearly $400 billion – giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices and expanding expiring subsidies to help 13 million people can afford health insurance.

Biden’s original measure fell apart after conservative Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., opposed it, saying it was too costly and would fuel inflation.

In a challenge imposed on all budget bills like this one, the Senate endured an overnight “vote” on the swift amendments. Each Democrat has been tested on their ability to hold together a compromise negotiated by Schumer, the Progressives, Manchin, and the confusing centerpiece Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

Radical Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., proposed amendments to further expand the health benefits of the legislation, and those efforts have failed. Most votes were coerced by Republicans, and many were designed to make Democrats appear soft on the US-Mexico border security and fuel and energy costs, and like bullies because they want to strengthen IRS tax law enforcement.

Before debate began on Saturday, the bill’s prescription drug price cap was diluted by the nonpartisan congressman of the Senate. Elizabeth MacDonough, who raised questions about the chamber’s procedures, said a provision should be dropped that would impose costly penalties on drugmakers that raise prices on insurers private sector exceeds inflation.

This is the bill’s primary protection for the 180 million people with private health insurance they get through work or buy themselves. Under special procedures that allow Democrats to pass their bill by a simple majority without the usual 60-vote margin, its provisions must focus more on dollar budget numbers and cents rather than a change of policy.

But the thrust of their pharmaceutical price language remains. That includes allowing Medicare to negotiate what it pays for drugs for 64 million seniors, penalizing manufacturers for excess inflation on drugs sold to Medicare and limiting out-of-pocket drug costs. beneficiaries down to $2,000 per year.

The bill also limits Medicare patients’ costs for insulin, the expensive diabetes drug, to $35 monthly.

The final cost of the measure has been recalculated to reflect the late changes, but overall it will increase by more than $700 billion over a decade. The money will come from a minimum tax rate of 15% for certain companies with annual profits above $1 billion, a 1% tax rate for companies that buy back their own stock, and increased IRS tax collection. and government savings from lower drug costs.

Sinema forced Democrats to abandon a plan to stop wealthy hedge fund managers from paying less than the personal income tax rate on their earnings. She also joined other Western senators to win $4 billion to combat drought in the region.

On the energy and environmental front, the compromise is most evident between the progressives and Manchin, a champion of his state’s fossil fuels and coal industry.

Clean energy is supported by tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and the production of solar panels and wind turbines. There will be home energy rebates, funds to build plants to build clean energy technology, and money to promote climate-friendly farming practices and reduce pollution in minority communities. .

Manchin won billions of dollars to help power plants reduce their carbon emissions plus language demanding more government bids to drill for oil on federal land and waters. Party leaders also promised to push for separate legislation this fall to speed up permits for energy projects, which Manchin wants to include in a near-complete natural gas pipeline in their state. me.

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