Senate 'vote-a-rama' continues as Democrats eye finish line for sweeping climate and health care bill

By Clare Foran and Ali Zaslav, CNNUpdated: Sun, 07 Aug 2022 15:27:36 GMTSource: CNNThe Senate is continuing to work Sunday on a series of back-to-back amendment votes as Democrats hope to pass their s

By Clare Foran and Ali Zaslav, CNN

Updated: Sun, 07 Aug 2022 15:27:36 GMT

Source: CNN

The Senate is continuing to work Sunday on a series of back-to-back amendment votes as Democrats hope to pass their sweeping health care and climate package.

The amendment process, known on Capitol Hill as a "vote-a-rama," started Saturday night shortly after 11:30 p.m. ET. A final vote on the bill will take place when amendment votes end, the timing of which it is not yet clear.

The bill -- named the Inflation Reduction Act -- would represent the largest climate investment in US history and make major changes to health policy by giving Medicare the power for the first time to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs and extending expiring health care subsidies for three years. The legislation would impose new taxes to pay for it.

The package is the product of painstaking negotiations and will give Democrats a chance to achieve major policy objectives ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. Senate Democrats are using a special process to pass the bill without Republican votes.

Once the legislation has passed in the Senate, it would next need to be approved by the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden could sign it into law. The House is poised to come back to take up the legislation this Friday, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office.

Senate Democrats only need a simple majority for final passage of the bill since they are using a process known as reconciliation, which allows them to avoid a Republican filibuster and corresponding 60-vote threshold.

In order to pass a bill through the reconciliation process, however, the package must comply with a strict set of budget rules. And Republicans are using the vote-a-rama to put Democrats on the spot and force politically tough votes.

As expected, key insulin provisions were struck out of the bill after Republicans raised a point of order, resulting in a vote to strip them out.

The final vote was 57-43. A 60-vote threshold was needed to keep the provision in place.

The provisions initially included in the bill would have limited insulin prices to $35 per month in both the private insurance market as well as through Medicare. But the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the cap on insulin in the private insurance market was not compliant with the reconciliation rules Democrats are utilizing to push their legislation through the chamber.

Democrats kept both provisions in the bill anyway, but Republicans raised a point of order to force a vote to strike the provisions only from the private marketplace. The Medicare $35 insulin cap remains in place.