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Senate passes Inflation Reduction Act after overnight 'vote-a-rama'

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gestures as he walks off the Senate floor after the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act during a marathon voting session known as a 'vote-a-rama' on Capitol Hill on Sunday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gestures as he walks off the Senate floor after the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act during a marathon voting session known as a 'vote-a-rama' on Capitol Hill on Sunday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE

Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate on Sunday afternoon passed a bill that tackles health care and taxes, and provides the largest-ever investments into green energy in American history after a lengthy "vote-a-rama."

The bill, called the Inflation Reduction Act, was passed along party lines with Vice President Kamala Harris casting a tie-breaking vote after lawmakers spent more than 15 hours debating the bill overnight.

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The Inflation Reduction Act will head to a vote in the Democratic-controlled House where it is expected to pass as early as Friday before it will be sent to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law.

"The Inflation Reduction Act that this Senate Democratic Majority has passed will endure as one of the defining legislative feats of the 21st century," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

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"It reduces inflation, lowers costs, creates millions of good-paying jobs, and is the boldest climate package in U.S. history."

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said in a statement after the vote that Democrats chose to "double down on their economic disaster" by passing the bill.

"The last time Senate Democrats tried to remake the economy on party lines, they shoved American families into the worst inflation in 40 years," McConnell said.

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"Democrats got all-you-can-eat liberal spending and working families got stuck with the bill."

McConnell said that the bill will lead to "job-killing tax hikes" and a doubling of the Internal Revenue Service.

"Their response to runaway inflation they've created is a bill that experts say will not meaningfully cut inflation at all," McConnell said.

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The $740 billion bill includes $433 billion in new spending on investments into green energy and the reduction of greenhouse gases, and would give Medicare the ability to negotiate the prices for prescription drugs.

The marathon voting began just after 11:30 p.m. Saturday after Harris cast a tie-breaking vote along unanimous party lines, 50-50, to advance the Inflation Reduction Act.

The bill received backing from centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

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Schumer had led the party to deals earning their cooperation while removing a provision that targeted closing a tax loophole for hedge fund managers.

Senate Republicans proposed a slurry of amendments to the bill overnight and forced votes on amendments to the bill.

Democrats passed the package through the Senate on Sunday with a simple majority in a budget process known as reconciliation that allows them to avoid a Republican filibuster.

However, Republicans with a vote of 57-43 successfully removed a provision capping the cost of insulin for many patients at $35 but left intact a portion of the provision that applies to Medicare patients.

In the reconciliation process, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough was tasked with deciding whether the bill's provisions meet strict budget rules.

MacDonough on Saturday gave approval of the bill's climate provisions and most of its plans targeting drug prices but said part of the cap did not adhere to rules that allowed Democrats to advance the bill, including the insulin provision.

"Republicans have just gone on the record in favor of expensive insulin," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., according to the Washington Post.

"After years of tough talk about taking on insulin makers, Republicans have once against wilted in the face of heat from Big Pharma."

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Schumer announced Saturday that the bill "remains largely intact" after undergoing the parliamentarian's review.

"The bill, when passed, will meet all of our goals -- fighting climate change, lowering health care costs, closing tax loopholes abused by the wealthy and reducing the deficit," Schumer said.

However, Democrats also rejected proposals from Sen. Bernie Sanders to insert provisions that would expand Medicare.

Only a majority vote is needed in the House.

A larger form of the bill, called Build Back Better, was more than $4 trillion but stalled in the Senate.

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