Electric cars, drug prices and more: 5 battles Democrats could lose over their flagship bill
But the president of the finances of the Senate Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), whose panel oversaw the drafting of large parts of the bill, said there were no concerns about unresolved political issues or the rushed timeline.
“We’ve been preparing for this… for about a year and a half. We’ve gone out and recruited people like they’re basketball stars because they know very well how to successfully run this extraordinary procedural gauntlet,” said Wyden, himself a former college hoops player.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released an official estimate on Wednesday that the Democrats’ comprehensive bill, as currently drafted, would cut deficits by about $101.5 billion over a decade, not including provisions that strengthen IRS enforcement. With those measures included, the deficit reduction would amount to $305 billion, the CBO said.
Of course, the bill may not stay intact as Democrats race to wrap it up this week. Here are five provisions that may need to be removed or changed under the Senate budget rules:
Insulin cost cap
Democrats plan to try a major addition to their biggest piece of legislation: a $35-a-month cap on what people can pay out of pocket for insulin. They know very well that the Republicans could easily cancel it; the measure raises an obvious red flag under fiscal rules because it may target pharmaceutical companies’ finances more than it affects government coffers.
Under Senate rules, every Democrat bill must have a significant effect on federal government spending, revenue and debt. Democrats must show that any proposed policy change still primarily affects the federal budget and is not simply a “side effect.”
Sen. Richard Burer (RN.C.), the top Republican on the Senate HELP Committee, said Wednesday that the insulin supply would draw a challenge to the GOP.
Save on prescription drugs
The nonpartisan Senate rules arbiter has spent more than a week reviewing Democrats’ drug pricing plans. While provisions that would allow Medicare to negotiate higher drug costs seem more likely to succeed, the push from Democrats to penalize drug companies when they raise prices for those with private health insurance presents a bigger hurdle. .
The savings achieved by this mandate involving the private insurance market could be seen as a fiscal side effect of the policy rather than its primary purpose, which would violate Senate budget rules. Some budget experts assume the measure has a chance of surviving, but warn no one has a crystal ball when it comes to the parliamentarian.
Restrictions on electric car credits
Some of the bill’s new conditions for receiving a $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of electric vehicles could also come under scrutiny. Under the current proposal, a car is only eligible for full credit if the batteries were made with materials from the United States or from countries that have trade agreements with the United States.
The requirements are intended to satisfy Sen. by Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) worries that the electric vehicle industry is too dependent on China. But those conditions could again raise the question of whether or not the policy being created outweighs its effect on the federal budget.
Rental of public land for energy production
Another provision Democrats may need to revise is a requirement that the Department of the Interior must auction off at least 2 million acres of land within a year for oil and gas land leases before authorize solar and wind projects on public land.
Opponents of the proposal argue that its political impact outweighs its fiscal effects because it makes solar and wind development on federal lands contingent on leases from oil producers.
Closing a tax loophole
Democrats want to close a loophole that allows wealthy private equity and hedge fund managers to pay less tax, known as the deferred interest clause. But Arizona Sen. Kirsten Sinemathe only Democrat who has yet to approve the bill, seeks to eliminate this diminished interest as she debates whether to support the entire package.
Before Democrats can pass their bill by simple majority, senators must endure an all-night marathon of amendments known as “vote-a-rama.” During that time, Republicans could propose an amendment that would remove the interest-bearing language — and would likely succeed in removing it given the Senate 50-50, as long as Sinema sides with them.
“We’ve looked at this every which way,” Wyden said when asked about potential changes to win Sinema’s vote. “And whichever way you look at it, we’re saying there’s something that needs to change when you have multi-billion dollar corporations paying lower tax rates than nurses and firefighters. .”
Josh Siegel contributed to this report.