WASHINGTON — The Senate was weaving its way through a series of sweeping amendments early Sunday morning on a climate, tax and health care spending package that Democrats have been pushing to pass for months amid fierce opposition.
Since two leading centrist elements – Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – have said in recent weeks that they would support moving the package forward, Democrats are confident they will be able to do so. push through, despite unanimous Republican opposition.
It features many of the priorities long sought after by President Biden and his party, including hundreds of billions of dollars in climate and energy programs, a plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and increases to make the tax code fairer.
But as part of the murky budget process Democrats use to protect the package from a buccaneer, they must navigate the measure through an hour-long ritual known as “vote-a-rama,” whose reconciliation measures must survive to be approved. .
In the equally divided Senate, the 50-member Democratic caucus will need to stick together to fend off Republican-proposed changes and win final passage, which was expected later on Sunday, as long as no last-minute changes upend the deal. The House is expected to approve the package on Friday.
Republicans, furious at the resurrection of a measure they thought was dead, have acknowledged their chances of derailing the bill are slim. But just months before the midterm elections in November, the process gives Republican lawmakers an opportunity to force politically vulnerable Democrats to pass tough votes on gas prices, immigration to the South American border. west and the tax provisions of the bill.
Democrats have so far remained united in pushing back more than a dozen amendments since voting-a-rama began at 11:31 p.m. Saturday. Eager to maintain the fragile coalition behind the bill, several Democrats rejected amendments they would otherwise support.