Progressive Senators said they will vote against any amendments to Democrats’ proposed climate and health care legislation ahead of a marathon series of votes before the bill’s passage.
The remarks come ahead of the Senate voting on a motion to proceed on the so-called Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Democrats hope to pass the legislation through a process called budget reconciliation, which would allow them to pass it with a simple majority and avoid a Republican filibuster.
As part of budget reconciliation, the Senate will conduct a “vote-a-rama,” wherein Senators vote for back-to-back amendments at a rapid-fire pace of usually no more than ten minutes per amendment.
On Saturday morning, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, one of the most outspoken advocates for combating climate change, said he would oppose any amendments, including ones he supports.
“We have much more to do to meet our climate and equity commitments, but after a yearlong fight, we have a deal that has 50 votes and makes historic investments,” he said. “This weekend, I will vote accordingly to protect that deal, which means voting no on amendments, even ones I support.”
Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii echoed the sentiment in another tweet.
“We have a deal to take the biggest climate action in U.S. history. Every Senate Dem has agreed to it. I can think of lots of ways to strengthen it, but I won’t derail this bill by supporting changes. I will vote NO on all amendments – even for stuff I like. Let’s finish the job.”
Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota, one of the most instrumental negotiators on climate aspects of the legislation, echoed the sentiment, saying she will oppose amendments that she supports.
“This bill makes historic progress on climate action and lowering prescription drug costs. It has 50 votes, and we need to stick together to keep it that way,” she said.
Senator Alex Padilla of California agreed with his peers, saying: “Let’s stay united and get this historic bill done,.”
Earlier this week, Senator Bernie Sanders gave a speech on the Senate floor calling for the legislation to be amended.
“Now is the time for every member of the Senate to study this bill thoroughly and to come up with amendments and suggestions as to how we can improve it,” he said. However, the united front from Democrats shows the Independent from Vermont might be isolated.
The unified front comes as Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has released advisories about various parts of the Inflation Reduction Act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Saturday that Ms MacDonough allowed for provisions to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
“Democrats have received extremely good news: for the first time, Medicare will finally be allowed to negotiate prescription drug prices, seniors will have free vaccines and their costs capped, and much more,” he said in a statement. “This is a major victory for the American people. While there was one unfortunate ruling in that the inflation rebate is more limited in scope, 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.”
In addition, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Tom Carper of Delaware said that Ms MacDonough said the legislation’s climate equity provisions passed parliamentary muster.
“I am especially pleased that our methane emissions reduction program, environmental justice block grants, and climate bank provisions were approved,” he said in a statement.