This week: Senate Democrats rush to finish tax and climate package – if Sinema signs

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This week, Senate Democrats are looking to move forward with the multi-trillion-dollar climate, tax and health care package announced last week — and have their fingers crossed that Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D -Arizona) sign.

The Senate is expected to recess on Friday, leaving little time for lawmakers to onboard Sinema and bring the multi-trillion-dollar spending bill to the finish line. The Arizona Democrat – whose support is needed to settle the package through budget reconciliation – has yet to say whether she supports the deal.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) said he would introduce the bill this week.

But before that, the Senate is set to vote — again — on a bill to expand health care eligibility for veterans exposed to toxic combustion fireplaces. A coalition of Senate Republicans blocked the measure last week, ostensibly for budgetary reasons, despite legislation previously passed with bipartisan support. A vote is scheduled for Monday.

Time permitting, the Senate could also pass a resolution expressing support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO, which the House passed last month.

The House is out of session this week following the August recess on Friday.

Senate Democrats advance reconciliation

Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) shocked those inside and outside the Capitol last week when they announced a multibillion-dollar climate, tax and healthcare package health care, resuscitating spending talks that broke down earlier this year.

The deal was the product of closed-door negotiations between Schumer and Manchin, who met again privately after the West Virginia Democrat said he could not support new climate spending and tax reform at following a worrying report on inflation.

The package, dubbed the Cut Inflation Act, includes $369 billion in energy security and climate investments and allocates $64 billion to extend Affordable Care Act grants for two years, bringing total new spending to $433 billion. The tax reforms in the bill are expected to generate $739 billion in revenue.

Republicans felt betrayed by Wednesday afternoon’s announcement, while Democrats openly embraced the deal. However, Sinema remains a wild card and has yet to comment on the package.

The freshman Democrat from Arizona, who was key to previous reconciliation and infrastructure talks, declined to answer a series of questions from reporters as he left the Capitol last week. Her office only said she was reviewing the proposal.

Without Sinema’s support, the Democrats’ chances of passing the package will drop to zero. The caucus is seeking to push the measure through budget reconciliation, which allows lawmakers to thwart the 60-vote legislative filibuster and pass bills by a majority.

The math in the Senate is simple: With the chamber split 50-50, Democrats need all members on board to trigger a deciding vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.

The most likely sticking point for Sinema is the carried interest tax loophole, which the Schumer-Manchin deal would close. The tax preference allows asset managers to pay a capital gains tax rate of 20% on income generated from managing profitable investments. Closing it would bring in about $14 billion over the next decade.

Sinema has previously opposed closing the carried interest tax loophole. Manchin, however, says he is firm on keeping the interest-bearing clause in the package.

The West Virginia Democrat told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he hoped Sinema would be “positive” about the package, but added “she will make her decision, and I respect that”.

Schumer said last week that the Senate would vote on the bill this week, once the parliamentarian completes the process known as “Byrd Bath”, in which she reviews the package to ensure that all provisions of the measure are linked to the budget, by reconciliation rules.

Then the chamber will hold a “vote-a-rama,” a process that allows Republicans to propose amendments. After the final passage through the Senate, House leaders said they would reconvene the chamber to consider the measure.

But with the Senate recessing on Friday, time is running out for Democrats to pass the bill — the first step toward a meaningful legislative victory for President Biden with less than 100 days to go before the midterm elections.

Senate to vote again on toxic combustion fireplaces bill

The Senate is expected to hold another vote on Monday on Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our PACT Act, which would expand health care eligibility for the 3.5 million veterans who served after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack and were exposed to toxic combustion fireplaces .

The legislation ping-ponged between the House and Senate for several months, with lawmakers making small changes as it progressed. It calls for the addition of 23 burning fireplaces and conditions related to toxic exposure to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ alleged service connections.

The measure, however, encountered an unexpected hurdle last week, after a group of Senate Republicans blocked the bill citing budget concerns. Twenty-five Republicans who previously voted in favor of the legislation changed their stance this time around, taking the vote to 55 to 42, or five votes before clearing a legislative filibuster.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who voted against the bill in June and last week, spoke to express concern over a arrangement of the bill converting some $400 billion of discretionary spending into mandatory spending. Discretionary spending depends on congressional appropriations, while mandatory spending does not.

Toomey pushed for an amendment to address his budget concern, which Democrats would not consent to, leading to last week’s deadlock.

Toomey seemed to suggest Sunday that votes on the GOP amendments would unlock support to pass the bill, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday “I think anybody who has an amendment should be able to get their amendment. .”

“That probably means two or three amendment votes. We could sort this out tomorrow night, literally…and then pass the bill with probably 85 votes,” he added.

In June, the Senate passed the bill by an 84-14 vote. Schumer set another vote for Monday night and said he would stand by his earlier offer to let Toomey take his floor amendment with a 60-vote threshold. for adoption.

Potential Senate vote on NATO resolution

Time permitting, the Senate could vote this week on a resolution expressing support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

The House approved the resolution in a 294-18 bipartisan vote last month, backing the two Nordic countries’ entry into the military alliance and opposing attempts by the Russian Federation to thwart or retaliate against their NATO membership.

Finland and Sweden submitted applications for NATO membership in May and were invited to join the military alliance in June. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June approved a resolution by voice vote that called on NATO to expedite Nordic membership.

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