Debate begins on massive budget package; ‘Vote-a-rama’ awaits

“Sen. Manchin likes to say, ‘If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it,'” Cornyn said. “But for the life of me, I don’t know how our Democratic colleagues are going to explain this one in November.”

End in sight?

Earlier in the day, senators predicted the vote-a-rama would begin Saturday evening with final passage coming early Sunday morning sometime, whenever Republicans tire of forcing difficult votes meant to hit Democrats politically or force cracks in the united backing for their bill. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also has his own amendments to the bill, which he believes should be more expansive.

Some political theater is expected during the all-nighter. For example, Democrats decided to leave the bill legislation from Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., to cap what privately insured consumers and Medicare recipients pay for insulin at $35 per month and require Medicare to negotiate certain insulin prices.

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough did not vet the provisions, according to a Senate Democratic aide. The commercial cap on insulin pricing would be trickier under the “Byrd rule,” which requires reconciliation provisions to have more than a “merely incidental” impact on spending or revenues.

Democrats suspect the Medicare cap will pass muster, but the commercial cap is unlikely to survive a Byrd challenge, the aide said. Democrats are daring Republicans to raise a budget point of order on that section of the bill, which would then mean a 60-vote threshold is required to keep the text in.

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