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Senate ‘vote-a-rama’ continues with potential new hiccup for Democrats on sweeping climate and health care bill


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By Alex Rogers, Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav and Manu Raju, CNN

The Senate is continuing to work Sunday on a series of amendment votes but faced a new hiccup early afternoon as Democrats look to pass their sweeping climate, health care and tax 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 after the amendment votes end, the timing of which is not yet clear.

But senators are looking at making changes to the bill, just hours before the chamber is expected to pass it.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are in discussions with Senate GOP Whip John Thune on the 15% corporate minimum tax. The two Democrats — who are pivotal in writing and passing the legislation — were seen by CNN going into Thune’s office on Sunday.

“We’re having conversations and continuing to work it,” said Thune.

The issue has been percolating since Saturday after Sinema discovered language in a draft of the bill showing how subsidiaries of companies owned by private equity firms could be hit by the 15% corporate minimum tax if their combined book income exceeds $1 billion, according to a Senate source familiar with the matter.

If Sinema succeeds in altering that provision, the bill would raise $35 billion less in revenue, potentially reducing the roughly $300 billion in deficit savings, which is a key priority for Manchin.

In a potential problem for Democrats, Sinema could back a Thune amendment to exempt those companies from the corporate minimum tax — and pay for the lost revenue by extending for a year a limitation on individuals’ state and local tax deductions through 2026.

If the Senate adopts Thune’s proposal, several Democrats in the House primarily from coastal districts, who have campaigned on repealing the limits on the SALT deduction, could object.

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 reduce the deficit, be paid for through new taxes — including a 15% minimum tax on large corporations and a 1% tax on stock buybacks — and boost the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to collect.

It would raise over $700 billion in government revenue over 10 years and spend over $430 billion to reduce carbon emissions and extend subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and use the rest of the new revenue to reduce the deficit.

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.

Republicans were also successful in removing a key insulin provisions to cap the price of insulin to $35 per month on the private insurance market, which the Senate parliamentarian ruled was not compliant with the Senate’s reconciliation rules. The $35 insulin cap for Medicare beneficiaries remains in place.

After the Senate passes the bill, the House is expected to return to Washington on Friday to consider it.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

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CNN’s Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.

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