Senate Republicans successfully forced Democrats to scrap a provision from their $740 billion climate and health care package that would have capped the price of insulin for all Americans at just $35.
Senators were inside the U.S. Capitol from Saturday night through Sunday morning to vote 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 House ruling that it violates the rules of the budget reconciliation process by which legislation is passed.
Republicans raised a point of order on Sunday, forcing a floor-wide vote on whether to overturn the congressman’s decision.
The measure was ultimately three votes below the required 60-vote threshold. Forty-three lawmakers voted to remove the price cap.
“3 GOP votes are enough to cap insulin at $35,” Progressive Rep. Ruben Gallego wrote on Twitter, lamenting the defeat.
“The sad thing is that the GOP could have voted yes on this amendment and voted no on the entire bill and people would have affordable insulin. But let’s be honest, they just wanted to be assholes.
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.
But debate still continues over the total bill, which is expected to pass along party lines later on Sunday.
“Republicans just stopped us from capping the price of insulin for all Americans at $35 a month,” Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrote on Twitter. “We have already seen far too many people risk their lives and health by rationing insulin they cannot afford. It is unacceptable that we allow this tragedy to continue.
The bill is presented to the prosecution after months of setbacks and grueling negotiations, and fierce Republican opposition over its supposed effects on inflation.
A study commissioned by the Republican Senate Finance Committee predicts the bill will raise taxes for Americans at all income levels.
If true, it would go against President Joe Biden’s promise not to raise taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 a year.
And GOP Sen. Rick Scott told ABC’s This Week he thinks it could increase medical costs for the most vulnerable.
“Right now, this bill should actually be called the War on the Elderly Act. I mean, it’s a war on Medicare,” Scott said. “Joe Biden pushed this and these plans are pushing us into a recession.”
Senate Republicans killed Democrats’ efforts to cap the private cost of insulin at $35. The measure fell short by three votes to be included in the Schumer-Manchin deal
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now leading Democrats through the hours-long voting process after finally reaching an agreement on a budget bill with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin
To pass the marathon vote, lawmakers also bought sweet and savory snacks for their aides, and 88-year-old Republican Senator Chuck Grassley had taken 10-minute naps to get through the night, according to CNN.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons told CNN on Sunday morning he was on his fourth cup of coffee and didn’t expect a final vote until at least 12 p.m.
Hoping to secure a major victory for President Joe Biden ahead of November’s midterm elections, Democrats have cobbled together a deal on a fiscal package that can be passed through the budget process known as reconciliation.
This means it can be passed by a simple majority vote by the ruling party, rather than the 60-vote threshold needed to pass most other laws – but can only be passed after a number unlimited number of amendments have been tabled.
On Saturday night, all 50 Senate Democrats voted to continue debate on the bill. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the deciding vote.
Meanwhile, Republicans have tried to undermine his likely passage with a series of border, crime and IRS amendments.
That’s despite Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders criticizing the legislation on Saturday, calling it the “so-called Inflation Reduction Act.”
But since Sunday morning, the bill has survived a flurry of Republican amendments, including those cracking down on the Southwest Border and the IRS.
The GOP hopes to wedge vulnerable Democrats into awkward positions by having them vote down proposals on burning issues.
“Sometimes you don’t get a vote on some of these things, so it’s good to bring them out,” Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville told The Hill.
One of Sanders’ own amendments that would have ensured drug costs for Medicare programs do not exceed those of the Department of Veterans Affairs was defeated 99 to 1.
The self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist proposed other amendments to expand Medicare and reduce prescription costs, which he said the bill didn’t go far enough, but they too were rejected by the majority of his colleagues.
Sanders was also the only one to vote in favor of his measure to raise the corporate tax rate to pay for an expanded child tax credit – with 97 senators voting against.
Senator Michael Bennet, another Democrat, told CNN on Sunday morning that Sanders’ amendment was “not helpful.”
“I don’t want to embarrass anyone,” Sanders apparently told reporters of his bevy of proposals. “Are they frustrated that we have to expand and extend the child credit?”
He added: “Every amendment I have presented today enjoys wide support.”
Democrats hope to score victory for President Joe Biden’s agenda ahead of November’s midterm elections
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse explained that his party’s goal was to ensure the integrity of the original bill, which came after months of tough negotiations – meaning lawmakers would likely vote against provisions with which they would normally agree.
“This one is so delicately balanced that ANY amendment, even a ‘good’ one, risks upsetting the balance – so expect a lot of ‘no’ votes on things we would normally want. Don’t be surprised,’ Whitehouse wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker told The Hill he went on a grocery run to make sure people’s needs were taken care of during the marathon session.
“I went to Trader Joes and bought a few hundred bucks worth of snacks for all the floor staff, fellow senators and others working late tonight,” he said, adding that he had bought “a lot of things with chocolate” in addition to fruit. and nuts.
Republican Senator John Kennedy was reportedly spotted eating a Slim Jim, and fellow GOPer Mike Lee told the outlet he was counting on beef jerky and “lots of Red Bull.”
The package contains about $740 billion in new revenue proposals and $433 billion in new spending.
It includes more funding for IRS enforcement, a minimum 15% corporate tax, and allows Medicare to negotiate lower drug costs.
The package also represents $369 billion for energy security and climate change and $64 billion to expand healthcare subsidies for the Affordable Care Act.
It leaves $300 billion to reduce the deficit.