Politics

Schumer sets weekend showdown for Democrats' tax and spending bill in Senate



Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Friday said the chamber is on track to begin consideration of the Democrats’ $740 billion health care, climate, tax and spending package over the weekend.

The nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has been working overtime to scrub of the far-reaching measure to ensure it meets the Senate’s complex budget reconciliation rules before Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, introduces the legislation for consideration by the full chamber. The reconciliation package can pass with just the 50 Democrats in the evenly divided chamber, not the three-fifths majority needed for other bills.

“The parliamentarian and her team have dedicated long hours on this legislation,” Mr. Schumer told reporters Friday. “And they’re working through the day to make sure the Senate’s ready to act.”

He said he remained confident that “at the end of the day” Democrats will have “preserved the core components” of the bill.

Senate Democrats received the green light on the bill late Thursday when the final holdout in the caucus, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, signaled that she was ready to “move forward” on the legislation contingent on changing tax provisions contained in the bill which targeted wealthy investors and large corporations.

“We have agreed to remove the carried-interest tax provision, protect advanced manufacturing and boost our clean energy economy in the Senate’s budget reconciliation legislation,” Ms. Sinema said in a statement. “Subject to the parliamentarian’s review, I’ll move forward.”

Democrats estimated the dropped tax provisions would have generated $14 billion in new revenue.

Mr. Schumer, who supported the carried-interest provision, announced that negotiators had decided to fill the funding gap with an excise tax on stock buybacks from corporations, a move that he said “excites all Democrats, and particularly progressives.” He said the added provision would bring in $74 billion in revenue.

Democrats are rushing to pass a central item of the Biden administration’s agenda item before departing for Senate’s August recess.

Republicans plan to put a tough fight against the bill through what’s known as a “vote-a-rama” — an hours-long process that forces the full chamber to consider changes to the budget legislation. Part of the strategy is to put Democrats on the defensive on a range of hot-button topics.

At the end of the votes on amendments, which could start as early as this weekend, the majority party passes a final amendment negating any previous one that was passed.

Senate Republicans have pledged to make the process as tough as possible in an unlikely, last-ditch bid to pressure enough of their Democrat colleagues to abandon the bill.

“It will be like hell,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, told reporters Friday. “They deserve this.”

“They are empowering legislation that will make the average person’s life more difficult,” he said. “I am hoping we can come up with proposals that will make sense to a few of them and they will abandon this jihad they are on to tax and spend.”

Mr. Graham was joined by several GOP colleagues in ripping into the bill ahead of a series of votes expected over the weekend.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota said the bill will “have no discernible beneficial impact on inflation,” a point the Democrats dispute.

“This is a big tax increase on job creators in this country that won’t do anything to address the inflation crisis in this country and the economic recession that we’re already in,” Mr. Thune said. “The American people deserve better. We’re going to do everything we can to defeat this bill.”

Mr. Thune has also pledged to make sure the amendments stick by convincing Ms. Sinema and fellow centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia not to support the overall measure Democrats are expected to put forward after the votes are taken, but Mr. Schumer scoffed at the GOP’s threats.

“Republicans are scraping the bottom of the barrel for justification to oppose this bill,” Mr. Schumer said. First, they said it would increase inflation. That was debunked by expert after expert. Then they said it would increase taxes. That was also proven false.”

“They can’t even seem to lay a glove on this,” he said. “They don’t know what to do.”

Staff writer Ramsey Touchberry contributed to this story.





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