Senate Democrats have reached an accord on changes to their marquee economic legislation, they announced late Thursday, clearing the major hurdle to pushing one of President Joe Biden’s leading election-year priorities through the chamber in coming days.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a centrist who was seen as the pivotal vote, said in a statement that she had agreed to changes in the measure’s tax and energy provisions and was ready to “move forward” on the Inflation Reduction Act.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said lawmakers had achieved a compromise “that I believe will receive the support” of all Democrats in the chamber. His party needs unanimity to move the measure through the 50-50 Senate, along with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
Schumer has said he hopes the Senate can begin voting on the energy, environment, health and tax measure on Saturday. Passage by the House, which Democrats control narrowly, could come next week.
Final congressional approval of the election-year measure would complete an astounding, eleventh-hour salvation of Mr. Biden’s wide-ranging domestic goals, though in more modest form. Democratic infighting had embarrassed Mr. Biden and forced him to pare down a far larger and more ambitious $3.5 trillion, 10-year version, and then a $2 trillion alternative, leaving the effort all but dead.
This bill, negotiated by Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin, the conservative maverick Democrat from West Virginia, would raise $739 billion in revenue. That would come from tax boosts on high earners and some huge corporations, beefed up IRS tax collections and curbs on drug prices, which would save money for the government and patients.
It would spend much of that on energy, climate and health care initiatives, still leaving over $300 billion for deficit reduction.
Sinema said Democrats had agreed to remove a provision raising taxes on “carried interest,” or profits that go to executives of private equity firms. That’s been a proposal she has long opposed, though it is a favorite of Manchin and many progressives.
The carried interest provision was estimated to produce $13 billion for the government over the coming decade, a small portion of the measure’s $739 billion in total revenue.
It will be replaced by a new excise tax on stock buybacks which will bring in more revenue than that, said one Democrat familiar with the agreement who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deal publicly. The official provided no other detail.
Though providing no detail, Sinema said she had also agreed to provisions to “protect advanced manufacturing and boost our clean energy economy.”
She noted that Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough is still reviewing the measure to make sure no provisions must be removed for violating the chamber’s procedures. “Subject to the parliamentarian’s review, I’ll move forward,” Sinema said.
“Tonight, we’ve taken another critical step toward reducing inflation and the cost of living for America’s families,” a statement from Mr. Biden read. “The Inflation Reduction Act will help Americans save money on prescription drugs, health premiums, and much more. It will make our tax system more fair by making corporations pay a minimum tax. It will not raise taxes on those making less than $400,000, and it will reduce the deficit. It also makes the largest investment in history in combatting climate change and increasing energy security, creating jobs here in the US and saving people money on their energy costs. I look forward to the Senate taking up this legislation and passing it as soon as possible.”
Schumer said the measure retained the bill’s language on prescription drug pricing, climate change, “closing tax loopholes exploited by big corporations and the wealthy” and reducing federal deficits.
He said that in talks with fellow Democrats, the party “addressed a number of important issues they have raised.” He added that the final measure “will reflect this work and put us one step closer to enacting this historic legislation into law.”