Senate Parliamentarian Approves Parts of Senate Democrat Bill, Strikes One Portion

Senate Parliamentarian Approves Parts of Senate Democrat Bill, Strikes One Portion
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks at a news conference in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Aug. 2, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber
The Senate’s rules expert has approved provisions in a major bill Senate Democrats want to pass soon called the Inflation Reduction Act, according to top Democrats in the body.

Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that tax incentives for renewable energy and other related provisions can stand, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said.

“I’m especially pleased that our prevailing wage provisions were approved,” Wyden said in a statement. “These provisions guarantee wage rates for clean energy projects. Clean energy jobs will be good-paying jobs.”

Another piece that would enable Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs with pharmaceutical companies was also cleared, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“This is a major victory for the American people,” Schumer said.

Medicare is a health insurance program run by the federal government that primarily covers people aged 65 and older. About 64 million people are covered by the program.

Private insurers are already allowed to negotiate prices with drug companies.

MacDonough did strike down another portion of the bill, which would have essentially forced companies not to raise prices higher than inflation.

“While there was one unfortunate ruling … in that the inflation rebate is more limited in scope, the overall program remains intact and we are one step closer to finally taking on Big Pharma and lowering Rx drug prices for millions of Americans,” Schumer said.

Additional portions have not yet been fully vetted.

All Democrats Support Bill

The mammoth $433 billion bill has the backing of all 50 Democrats in Congress after swing Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) threw their support behind the legislation.

“We have agreed to remove the carried interest tax provision, protect advanced manufacturing, and boost our clean energy economy in the Senate’s budget reconciliation legislation,” Sinema, the last Democrat to announce her support, said in a statement this week. “Subject to the Parliamentarian’s review, I'll move forward.”

President Joe Biden and other Democrats have said the bill will help Americans save money, but experts are divided on the potential impact.

The bill is aimed at reducing energy costs, transitioning to “cleaner production” by incentivizing solar and other alternative forms of production, lowering health care premiums, increasing taxes on the rich, and reducing the deficit to “fight inflation,” according to Democrats.

Most Republicans appear opposed to the bill.

“Congressional Democrats are pushing a massive tax-and-spend proposal that will crush Americans already struggling under record-high inflation. Cutting wasteful spending would ease inflation. Spending more money will only make it worse,” Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) said in a statement.

“If a truth-in-advertising law were applied to the ‘Inflation Reduction Act,’ Democrats would be guilty. Their proposal would do nothing to tame inflation,” added Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Democrats hold a majority in the upper chamber because the party controls the White House. That means, in the event of a 50–50 tie, Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tiebreaking vote.

Schumer has said the Senate will vote on Aug. 6 to advance the bill, triggering hours of debate. A final vote can happen as soon as Sunday.