August 5

By Kaia Hubbard

The Senate will return to the Capitol on Saturday for a last-minute effort to pass a long-awaited reconciliation package before breaking for August recess, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Thursday.

“In the end, we’re going to make good on our word to pass the Inflation Reduction Act,” Schumer said from the Senate floor Thursday, later adding that the chamber will vote on a motion to proceed to the legislation on Saturday afternoon.

The Senate has all week been clearing its legislative calendar to prioritize the $740 billion climate, health care and tax package while all eyes have been on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, whose silence on the bill has been deafening in the 50-50 Senate where the vote of every Democratic lawmaker is necessary for passage.

The Arizona Democrat’s forthcoming decision puts members of her party in a precarious position, coupled with logistical hurdles to grapple with from the Senate parliamentarian, who weighs the final bill to see if it is in compliance with the procedural maneuver called reconciliation that allows passage of certain budget-related legislation on a simple majority rather than the 60 votes ordinarily required to end debate.

On Wednesday, reports surfaced that Sinema is looking to cut the carried interest loophole – which allows investment managers to pay a lower tax rate on their income – while looking to add about $5 billion in drought resilience funding from the filibuster-proof massive spending package. In addition to the tax provisions, the legislation also includes components that would tackle inflation, prescription drug prices, energy costs and would mark a historic investment in climate protections.

Meanwhile, Republicans are expected to vote as a bloc against the bill, with some being adamant that the legislation would not reduce inflation and would actually make the economic situation worse for many Americans.

“Democrats have decided to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of the peoples’ money on a bill that laughs at the peoples’ priorities,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday. “It would make inflation worse over the next two years and then do nothing to cut inflation in the long term.”

But Democrats have balked at the idea, billing the legislation as what Americans need most at this moment.

“The inflation reduction act will lower inflation, lower the cost of prescription drugs, close loopholes long exploited by big business who pay no or little taxes,” Schumer said. “That’s what the inflation reduction act is at its core. It’s what the American people want. It’s what the country so desperately needs and it’s what Democrats will deliver on in the coming days.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, who in a surprise reversal last week pledged his support for the package, has been on a media blitz in recent days, refuting Republicans’ inflation claims and defending the legislation.

“This is not a Democrat bill, this is not a Republican bill, this is not a green deal – this is a red, white and blue deal,” the West Virginia Democrat told Fox News this week, pushing back on claims that the legislation would raise taxes for average Americans.

The opposition from Republicans ups the ante for Democrats to come together on the bill – securing Sinema’s support. And pressure is on outside of the Senate chamber as well.

President Joe Biden again called on the lawmakers to pass the legislation on Thursday during a meeting with business and labor leaders, praising it for meeting the needs of working families and the economy.

“The Inflation Reduction Act has bipartisan support among the people of this country,” Biden said. “So my message to Congress is this: Listen to the American people.”