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Senate Democrats said Congresswoman Elizabeth McDonough approved key elements of their social spending and tax bill just hours before debate on the measure began.

One aspect of the congressional legislation, the Medicare inflation deduction, is not in line with Senate rules, according to Democrats. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., indicated this weekend that they won’t stop Democrats from moving forward with votes.

“Democrats received a lot of good news: for the first time, Medicare will be allowed to negotiate prescription drug prices, seniors will have free vaccines and their costs, and much more. This is a big win for the American people,” Schumer said. Saturday.

Senate set for marathon ‘vote-a-rama’ as Democrats push to pass social spending and tax bill

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough was a key figure in the Senate reconciliation process.

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough was a key figure in the Senate reconciliation process.
(US Senate/Handout via REUTERS)

“Despite an unfortunate ruling that the scope of the inflation rebate was limited, the overall program remains intact and we are one step closer to finally taking on Big Pharma and lowering Rx drug prices for millions of Americans.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., also weighed in.

“Senate Democrats wrote our reconciliation language in line with the Senate rules, and the parliamentarian largely agreed, especially on the Medicare negotiations and spending protections for seniors,” Wyden said.

“I am disappointed that the calculation of commercial units sold for Medicare inflation reduction is not in compliance, but this legislation will significantly check Big Pharma’s ability to lower prices. Lower drug prices for seniors and taxpayers.”

Wyden scored another clean energy tax victory. McDonough approved that part of the bill, his staff said early Saturday.

“Late-night update: Great news. We’re moving forward on a clean energy tax package without Byrd rule changes,” Senate Finance Committee Communications Director Ashley Scappel said in a late-night tweet.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Saturday he was disappointed that a Senate lawmaker ruled against a Medicare-related provision in the Democrats' social spending bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Saturday he was disappointed that a Senate lawmaker ruled against a Medicare-related provision in the Democrats’ social spending bill.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Manchin, movie advance dem Republicans promise vote-a-rama is ‘hell’ like social spending and tax bill

Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., last week announced an agreement on the social spending and tax bill after more than a year of internal party negotiations. Originally called “Build Back Better” and initially estimated to cost $3 trillion, the latest Manchin-Schumer version has been scaled back significantly and is known as the “Inflation Reduction Act.”

Democrats are trying to advance the bill using a process called budget reconciliation, which allows them to sidestep the Senate filibuster. But, under that process, they must comply with what is known as the Byrd Rule.

McDonough is responsible for helping the Senate implement the Byrd Rule. Over the past few days, she’s reviewed the bill’s text and heard arguments from Republicans and Democrats about which elements of the bill fit it and which don’t.

Generally, Byrd’s rule requires provisions in reconciliation bills to be fiscal in nature, meaning they relate to taxes and spending and that they remain budget neutral over a 10-year period.

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Meetings between McDonough and Senate staff have largely continued this week, as Republicans say they have tried to raise Byrd Rule objections to much of the bill.

It is unclear whether there are any other aspects of the law that are inconsistent with the Baird rule.

Technically, McDonough did not have the authority to excise certain parts of the reconciliation act himself. She advises the Senate on what does and does not follow its rules and precedents, and senators can overrule her if they choose. But top Democrats in the Senate have given no indication they want to buck McDonough on the bill.

After voting on the resolution to begin debate on Saturday, which is expected to receive the votes of all 50 Senate Democrats, the chamber is expected to enter “vote-a-rama” late Saturday or early Sunday. That process culminates in a vote on final approval of the bill, which if all Democrats are united will send it to the House of Representatives.