UPDATED: Senate Democrats Pass Sweeping Health Care And Climate Bill
Credit: Screengrab
August 7, 2022

UPDATED 12:20 PM PDT: The Senate passed the bill with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote.

Much to the chagrin of Republicans who were hoping Manchin and Sinema would continue to aid and abet them, the Senate took a key vote Saturday to advance Democrats' health care and climate bill, with the first vote passing by a measure of 51-50, and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.

What happens next

Following the procedural vote to proceed to the bill, there will be up to 20 hours of debate evenly divided between the two parties, though some of that time could be yielded back to speed up the process.

It’s not yet clear how much of the allotted debate time each side will use, but some Republicans are signaling they won’t try to use all of it. And Democrats are expected to yield back some of their time.

When asked if he plans to use a lot of debate time, which could delay final Senate passage of the bill, GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said, “Probably not.”

Another Republican senator, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, said Saturday that he wouldn’t force the Senate clerks to read the full bill, as any senator could request under the rules. Johnson forced a reading of the American Rescue Plan legislation during the budget process last year, which delayed the vote on the bill.

Following time for debate, there will be a process colloquially referred to on Capitol Hill as a “vote-a-rama” – a marathon series of amendment votes with no time limit that must run its course before a final vote can take place.

Republicans will be able to use the vote-a-rama to put Democrats on the spot and force politically tough votes. The process typically stretches overnight and into the early hours of the next morning.

It’s not yet clear exactly when the vote-a-rama will begin, but it could start as early as Saturday evening. If that happens, a final vote could potentially take place as soon as the early hours of Sunday morning.

Senators widely expect Republicans to try to kill insulin provisions included in Democrats’ climate and health care bill on the Senate floor during the vote-a-rama, which will also force the Senate parliamentarian in real time to rule on whether it’s in order to stay in the bill.

Those provisions would limit insulin prices to $35 in the private insurance market as well as through Medicare. According to a Democratic aide, the parliamentarian ruled that the cap on insulin in the private insurance market was not compliant with reconciliation. Democrats weren’t surprised by her ruling on the private market cap but are hoping the Medicare insulin cap stays in, according to the aide.

But either way, the aide said, Democrats will keep both insulin provisions in the bill as they proceed forward – daring the GOP to move and try to strike them on the Senate floor.

The House is poised to come back to take up the legislation on Friday, August 12, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office.

UPDATE: (Karoli) The vote-a-rama goes on, with Republicans trying to take the $35 insulin cap out of the bill after the undemocratic and cruel ruling of the parliamentarian that it wasn't germane to the budget. (The hell, you say)

We need Jon Stewart back making as much noise about the insulin cap as he did the veterans' bill.

UPDATE 2: They killed it. For the cap to remain in the bill, 60 senators had to vote for it. Only 57 did.

Here are the names of the Senators who want Americans to pay hundreds more a month for insulin.

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