Democrats are pulling out the stops to push their latest massive spending bill through without any Republican support. It was not clear on Saturday afternoon when the Senate would begin debate on the ironically named “Inflation Reduction Act.”
Senators were preparing for a marathon session that could go late into the night. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was expected to make announcements at some point Saturday evening about the plans to move forward.
Schumer threw things into gear after securing a compromise with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who had been the last Democrat holdout after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) agreed to go along with the measure about a week ago. The bill must receive the support of all 50 Senate Democrats to advance as a budget reconciliation item, as no GOP support is expected.
The final text of the bill had still not been released by Saturday afternoon, although some draft legislation was released last week. Those drafts were before the compromise was reached with Sinema.
After the debate is opened on the bill, both sides of the aisle will be allowed 10 hours of debate before the final floor vote can be held. Some Republican senators have said they expect debate to last more than 12 hours. It is not known yet if any GOP members will stage a traditional filibuster by holding the floor as long as possible.
Schumer faces another issue in getting the bill approved. Unlike the House, which enacted rules allowing proxy voting with conditions at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate still requires members to be present in the chamber in order to vote.
Senate Democrats have embraced a “Don’t Test, Don’t Tell” approach this weekend in their efforts to ram the new $764 billion in mostly Green New Deal spending through before their scheduled recess. A single positive COVID-19 test could wreck their plans, so they have decided to just skip the testing requirements.
A senior Senate aide told Tara Palmeri of Puck Reports that there would not be a delay in the vote on the spending bill even in the event a Democrat member does test positive for COVID-19. The unnamed aide said the no testing policy is “not an official mandate but we all know we’re not letting COVID get in the way” and added, “The deal is happening. Less testing, just wear masks and get it done.”
For his part in “Don’t Test, Don’t Tell,” Schumer only said that Democrats are “going to stay healthy.”