Senate Democrats Sign Pact to Protect Climate, Tax Bill Against Change

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A group of Democrats in the Senate plans to vote down all proposed amendments to their ambitious climate, tax and health care bill during Saturday’s marathon session, hoping to preserve the bill’s chance of passing.

sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.) told The Hill on Saturday that “a large number” of Democrats signed the strategy to quash all amendments in Saturday’s vote.

The goal of the plan, according to Booker, is to prevent any changes that could hinder legislation.

“We don’t want to jeopardize the final passage of law,” said the New Jersey Democrat, adding, “We need to stick together.”

“So there’s a great number of us and a growing number of us who will do whatever it takes to defend the most historic bill in U.S. history on climate change, the most significant bill in my life for the cost of prescription drugs, and an unbelievable amount of money.” bill that is going to help more general energy and health care costs for Americans,” he continued.

The Senate will vote on a series of open-ended amendments before a final vote on the 755-page bill. It’s part of the chamber’s appeasement package that allows the majority party to pass key legislation with just 51 votes, bypassing a filibuster.

Democrats are using this special process to pass their climate, tax and health care package, titled the Inflation Reduction Act. It contains a number of provisions that are central to President Biden’s domestic agenda.

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Senators are allowed to table as many amendments as they want during the vote-a-rama.

Republicans see it as an opportunity to table last-minute amendments and force their colleagues to vote hard. They are expected to propose hundreds of changes, although fewer than 50 votes are expected to get.

sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he plans to propose four amendments, including proposals to expand Medicare and give the government significantly more power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. He is frustrated that the prescription drug language in the budget law will only cover 20 drugs and will not come into effect until 2026.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) is pushing not to propose amendments to the bill, said a Democratic senator who spoke to The Hill on condition of anonymity.

Those amendments will put Democratic colleagues in a difficult position. It will force them to choose between proposals that are popular with their base and Schumer’s strategy for the compromise he made with Sens. Joe Manchin (TSTIME.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) intact. Any changes to the bill could jeopardize final approval, Schumer and other Democrats worry.

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Booker said he knows some colleagues are “trying to talk” to Sanders to warn him that there is no point in forcing votes on his amendments.

“That could create this kind of dem-on-dem violence, where we not only jeopardize the bill, but also put other members in difficult positions that if they stay with the team that wants to try and push away any amendments that would give them could stop in a position where they are somehow attacked by people who think they were doing something that wasn’t, something that was at odds with that,” he said.

The New Jersey Democrat noted that while he and his colleagues may agree with the proposed measures, they intend to oppose them to protect the bill’s chances.

“A lot of things are going to come up tonight that many of us passionately agree on. I heard someone was going to file a bill for the kid’s discount. Well, me, [Sens. Sherrod Brown (R-Ohio) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.]We’ve been doing that for years. And Brown, Bennett and I will have to vote against something we believe in,” he said.

sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who promised to “evaluate amendments,” said he “will probably oppose any revisions” even if he agrees with the content of the amendment.

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“I am deeply and strongly inclined to keep this bill as it is because it is so consistent and we need to keep unity in the end,” he told The Hill.

“So as much as I sympathize with many of the aims of amendments and would vote for those measures independently of this bill, I think this measure has such an immense impact that it should be preserved,” he added.

Asked about Sanders’ amendments, Senator Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he plans to vote against all the amendments, adding, “I’m trying to keep this bill clean and get it out of here. It’s too important.”

Urging if there is an agreement among Democrats to remain united on amendments, the No. 2 Senate Democrat said, “There are some who have ideas that we are trying to discourage.”

Asked about conversations between Schumer and Sanders, a Democratic senator told The Hill, “I’d be surprised if they didn’t take place.”

Alex Bolton contributed.

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