Senate parliamentarian gives green light to most of Democrats’ drug pricing plan

The Senate MP has approved key climate and health care provisions in Democrats’ big spending bill.

The rulings of Elizabeth MacDonough, the impartial ruler of the chamber, come before an expected vote Saturday afternoon to begin debate on the $739 billion climate, health care and tax package titled the “Inflation Reduction Act.”

Democrats use an accelerated process known as reconciliation to pass the bill by a simple majority vote. The Senate MP is responsible for issuing opinions on whether facilities meet the conditions of the budget reconciliation rules.

sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the Senate Clean Energy Committee’s clean energy tax package — much of the bill — complied with House rules.

The Inflation Reduction Act provides $369 billion for the climate, much of which would go toward tax credits to support clean energy technologies. Consumer tax credits are included for Americans to make “energy efficiency improvements in the home” and for those who buy electric vehicles.

It also offers a tax credit to clean energy developers who pay their employees the prevailing wages.

“I am especially pleased that our applicable wage regulations have been approved,” Wyden said in a statement. “These provisions guarantee wages for clean energy projects. Clean energy jobs will be high paying jobs.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., also announced Saturday that the MP has signed most of the drug pricing provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, with the exception of a prescription cost-cutting program that Democrats wanted to include.

“Democrats have received extremely good news: For the first time, Medicare will finally be allowed to negotiate prescription drug prices, seniors will receive free vaccines and their costs will be reduced, and much more. This is a major victory for the American people,” said Schumer. said in a statement.

The legislation will allow the federal secretary of health to directly negotiate the prices of certain expensive Medicare drugs beginning in 2026. It would also limit the out-of-pocket costs for those using Medicare medication plans to $2,000.

Democrats wanted to punish drug companies for raising the prices of some prescription drugs faster than inflation in an effort to keep costs down. But according to a well-known source, the MP ruled that these penalties cannot be applied to individuals with private health insurance. They remain in effect for Medicare.

“While there was an unfortunate ruling that the inflation discount is more limited, the overall program remains intact and we are one step closer to finally engaging Big Pharma and lowering Rx drug prices for millions of Americans,” Schumer said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrives at a press conference on the Inflation Reduction Act outside the US Capitol, August 4, 2022, in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Schumer said earlier this week that the first vote on the spending bill is expected Saturday afternoon.

The motion to go ahead, if passed, would spark debate on the bill and give lawmakers a chance to vote on amendments in what’s called “vote-a-rama.”

Republicans have pledged to table amendments on issues related to immigration, crime and energy. sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., told reporters on Friday that the voting session will be “hell.”

President Joe Biden Friday praised the move on the bill, declaring that Democrats were “on the verge of passing” what he said was the “key step” in fighting inflation.

“Basically, this bill is a game changer for working families and our economy,” he said. “I look forward to the Senate taking up this legislation and passing it as soon as possible.”

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