Aug. 7 – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi met over the weekend with fellow Republicans to oppose sweeping legislation to tackle climate change, cut health care costs , to raise taxes on certain corporations and to reduce the federal deficit.
The estimated $740 billion package is heading to the House, where lawmakers are poised to deliver on President Joe Biden’s priorities, a stunning turnaround from what had seemed like a wasted and doomed effort that is suddenly returned to political life.
The Democrats remained united, 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris voting for the tiebreaker, while the 50 Republicans in the Senate voted against the package.
Wicker, a Republican from Tupelo, said in a statement that the legislation was “totally out of touch with the needs of our country.”
“After causing massive inflation with last year’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, President Biden and his party are now pushing a massive tax hike on job creators and working Americans. , almost guaranteeing we’ll sink further into a recession,” Wicker said.
Hyde-Smith, a Republican from Brookhaven, also said in a statement that the bill could hurt the national economy.
“There’s no way that hard-working, middle-class families won’t end up paying the price for higher taxes and government mandates on job creators, energy producers and businesses,” said Hyde-Smith.
Senators engaged in a round-the-clock voting marathon that began Saturday and stretched late into the afternoon of Sunday. Democrats crushed some three dozen Republican amendments intended to torpedo the legislation.
In the face of unanimous GOP opposition, Democratic unity in the 50-50 chamber held firm, keeping the party on course for a morale-boosting victory three months from the election when control of Congress hangs in the balance.
The bill ran into trouble midday over objections to the new 15% minimum corporate tax that private equity firms and other industries did not like, forcing last-minute changes.
Despite the momentary setback, the “Cutting Inflation Act” offers Democrats a campaign season showcase to act on coveted goals.
It includes the largest-ever federal effort on climate change — nearly $400 billion — caps drug costs for seniors under Medicare at $2,000 a year and extends expiring subsidies that help 13 million people afford health insurance. By raising corporate taxes, the whole package is paid for, with some $300 billion in additional revenue for deficit reduction.
Just over a tenth the size of Biden’s initial rainbow of $3.5 trillion 10-year progressive aspirations in his Build Back Better initiative, the new package abandons earlier proposals to universal pre-school education, paid family leave and expanded childcare support. This plan fell apart after Conservative Senator Joe. Manchin, DW.Va., opposed it, saying it was too expensive and would fuel inflation.
Nonpartisan analysts said the “Cutting Inflation Act” would have a minor effect on soaring consumer prices.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.