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Thune breaks through Democratic bloc on vote-a-rama amendments

Senate Democrats stuck together and mostly voted against amendments with their tax, climate and healthcare package, when using a procedural maneuver to permit their vulnerable incumbents to vote for a few which could score political points without actually making any changes to the bill.

The chamber began voting on amendments to the budget reconciliation package in a free-for-all process referred to as a “vote-a-rama” around 11: 30 p.m. Saturday. A lot more than 15 hours later, after voting on 37 amendments and dilatory motions, the Senate concluded the vote-a-rama and proceeded to final passage.

Only the ultimate two amendments offered were adopted one from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and something from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., to displace section of Thune’s proposal.

Thunes amendment to exempt portfolio companies of investment funds from the bills 15 percent corporate minimum tax was adopted, 57-43.

The seven Democrats who backed after that it supported Warners amendment to displace Thunes offset, a one-year extension of the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, with one they found more acceptable. Warners offset would extend limits on pass-through business losses which you can use to lessen other taxable income. His amendment was adopted 51-50, with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.

Apart from the Thune amendment, the 48 Democrats and two independents who caucus using them banded together to oppose Republicans’ amendments, defeating the others on party-line votes.

When Democrats wanted their members in order to vote and only something, one of these would raise a budget point of order, triggering a motion to waive it that has been at the mercy of a 60-vote threshold rather than a straightforward majority.

That procedural maneuvering allowed the four Democrats considered most vulnerable in the November midterm elections Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire along with other party centrists showing their support for the underlying amendment. They might vote to waive the idea of order without fretting about it being put into the bill and potentially undermining unified Democratic support for the bigger package.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Cortez Masto, Kelly and Warnock’s races a Toss-up and Hassan’s Tilt Democratic.

Democrats jumped through probably the most procedural hoops to permit vulnerable members to vote to uphold the Title 42 public health directive which allows migrants crossing the border to get asylum in the U.S. to be expelled through the pandemic.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., offered an amendment to supply $1 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep to implement Title 42 until 120 days following the termination of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Democrats all voted against that amendment also it was rejected, 50-50.

Soon after that vote, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., offered an alternative solution amendment that could extend Title 42 until 60 days following the public health emergency ends with requirements for the administration to submit an idea to Congress to handle a potential influx of migrants. The Tester amendment contained no funding so was at the mercy of a budget point of order, which six Democrats joined all Republicans in voting to waive.

The Democrats who joined Tester in support for his amendment were Cortez Masto, Hassan, Kelly, Warnock and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The motion to waive the budget point of order had not been decided to, 56-44.

Democrats also raised a budget point of order on an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that could make it more challenging to export crude oil sold from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China. That allowed four Democrats Cortez Masto, Hassan, Warnock and Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff to vote with Republicans to waive the idea of order.

Superfund tax, Medicaid

A small number of Senate Democrats in tight reelection races voted to waive a budget point of order on a Hassan amendment to cut a section from the bill that could reestablish a tax to cover the cleanup of toxic sites through the Superfund program. The bill would raise taxes on imported barrels of oil along with other petroleum products from 9.7 cents to 16.4 cents, indexed to inflation.

Cortez Masto, Kelly, Sinema and Warnock joined Hassan in supporting her amendment, alongside all 50 Republicans. The motion to waive the budget point of order had not been decided to, 55-45.

Separately, Warnock authored an amendment to create healthcare coverage open to low-income individuals in 12 states, including their own, that haven’t expanded their Medicaid programs beneath the 2010 healthcare law.

Senate Budget ranking member Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., lodged a spot of order that the amendment handled matters outside the Finance panel’s jurisdiction and therefore violated budget reconciliation rules. The vote to waive the idea of order had not been decided to, 5-94. Ossoff, Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joined Warnock in support, as did a lone Republican: Maine’s Susan Collins.

The Democrats came closest to waiving budget rules to preserve another Warnock provision: capping insulin costs at $35 monthly in the private medical health insurance market. Seven Republicans joined the Democrats in the 57-43 vote to waive the guidelines after Graham raised the budget point of order. The vote means the provision is not any longer in the legislation.

Graham didn’t object to the cap on insulin charges for Medicare patients and that remained in the bill.

Democrats splintered on some budget points of order, however they remained more united in voting against amendments from Sanders to include Democratic priorities which were overlooked of the bill.

For instance, the Vermont independent offered an amendment to supply $30 billion for climate resilience programs and activities, like establishing a Civilian Climate Corps, that has been rejected, 1-98.

Sanders also offered two health amendments someone to make sure that Medicare pays only the Department of Veterans Affairs for prescription medications, and one to include provisions expanding Medicare coverage for hearing, dental and vision benefits. Both were rejected, by votes of 1-99 and 3-97, respectively. The hearing, dental and vision amendment earned the support of Warnock and Ossoff.

Sanders offered another amendment that could have extended for five years the more generous child tax credit rules that lapsed in the beginning of the year, covered by increasing the organization tax rate. Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Michael Bennet of Colorado, both child tax credit supporters, spoke contrary to the amendment, arguing it might bring down the complete carefully negotiated bill. It had been defeated, 1-97.

Sanders also stood alone in a 1-99 vote rejecting his amendment that could strike the extension of a tax credit for carbon oxide sequestration for a few facilities, remove $150 million for the power Department’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management and remove a cap on royalty fees for offshore coal and oil leasing that might be set by the bill.

Republicans remained united of all amendments, however, not all.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted with Democrats towards an amendment from Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, that could adjust income limits for the utmost capital gains tax rate and certain tax credits for inflation and exclude certain qualified interest from taxable revenues in 2023 and 2024. The amendment would offset those revenue losers with a one-year extension of the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions and a $20 billion cut to the IRS funding in the bill.

And Collins voted against an amendment from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, that could take $460 million out from the bill’s $4.3 billion for rebates to homeowners and apartment buildings to set up energy conserving upgrades, and shift the amount of money to the “payment instead of taxes” program which helps local governments offset the increased loss of tax revenue in areas dominated by tax-exempt federal lands.

Collins also voted against a Cruz motion to commit the bill to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to guarantee the measure didn’t make funds open to the District of Columbia to enforce a requirement that students be vaccinated against COVID-19 to wait public or charter schools. By way of a 49-51 vote, the motion wasn’t decided to.

GOP amendments

All of those other amendments and motions the Senate voted on were defeated on party-line votes. Those include amendments from:

  • Graham to strike provisions that could reinstate and improve the Hazardous Substance Superfund tax rate on crude oil and replace that revenue with a one-year extension of a $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes.
  • John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to require the Bureau of Land Management to carry coal and oil lease sales atlanta divorce attorneys state where it did so in June 2022.
  • Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to strike $45 million in funding for the EPA to implement eight parts of the CLIMATE Act.
  • Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, to prohibit the IRS from utilizing the $80 billion in mandatory funding that might be appropriated to the agency beneath the bill from used to audit taxpayers earning significantly less than $400,000 per year.
  • Roger Marshall, R-Kan., to exclude drugs in Medicare’s six protected classes or the ones that receive breakthrough designation from the meals and Drug Administration from price negotiation.
  • John Kennedy, R-La., to require coal and oil lease sales in the Gulf coast of florida and Alaska’s Cook Inlet.
  • Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., to require the inside secretary to perform pending coal leasing processes which are paused at the Bureau of Land Management.
  • Cruz to strike the measure’s $80 billion for the IRS, including for stepped-up tax enforcement efforts.
  • Kennedy to lessen insulin costs by re-implementing a rule for discounting insulin for federally qualified health centers.
  • Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, to supply $500 million to create or improve fencing and barriers across the southwest border. The amount of money would result from any office of the principle Readiness Support Officer in the Homeland Security Department.
  • Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to re-steer $500 million from exactly the same office to greatly help detect illegal narcotics.
  • Steve Daines, R-Mont., to regulate coal and oil leasing royalty rates.
  • Deb Fischer, R-Neb., to prohibit electric vehicles costing a lot more than $42,000 from being qualified to receive tax credits beneath the bill and lowering income eligibility for all those credits.
  • Barrasso to produce a tax deduction for mining costs associated with intangible drilling along with other expenses, covered with a permanent extension of the SALT cap.
  • Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to supply $500 million for the power Department to aid adoption of creating energy codes that meet certain energy conservation standards and $400 million for the Bureau of Land Management to finalize outstanding permits for projects that could facilitate usage of nickel and cobalt deposits.

Mark Burnett, Kathleen Bever, Paul M. Krawzak, and Sandhya Raman, Ariel Cohen, Laura Weiss and David Lerman contributed to the report.

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