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Senate Democrats head for crucial vote with climate agenda intact

Written by Javed Iqbal

Some budget experts had suspected so certain conditions placed on tax credits for electric carsincluding restrictions on where car battery materials must be sourced, ran afoul of the budget rules that govern the process Democrats use to pass their bills with a simple majority and avoid a filibuster.

Under the current proposal, a car is only eligible for full credit if the batteries are manufactured from materials from the USA or countries that have trade agreements with the United States — a requirement that some experts argue will make it very difficult to obtain the tax credit.

But those provisions may apparently remain in the package — a decision likely to please Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), who wanted the restrictions to limit the electric car industry’s reliance on China.

“The Finance Committee’s clean energy tax package complies with Senate rules, and important provisions to ensure our clean energy future is built in America have been approved by the parliamentarian,” Wyden said in a statement. “I am particularly pleased that our current salary regulations were approved. These provisions guarantee wage rates for clean energy projects. Clean energy jobs will be well-paid jobs.”

Saturday’s procedural hurdle, once cleared by Democrats, will trigger up to 20 hours of debate split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. But both sides are not expected to use their full time.

Rather, senators are likely eager to begin a marathon amendment process known as vote-a-rama, in which the GOP will marshal a series of politically difficult votes for Democrats in hopes of changing the party line package more than a year in the making. The Senate must endure the amendment marathon before Democrats can finally approve it.

Democrats are waiting to see whether they can include provisions that allow Medicare to negotiate the price of certain high-cost drugs and whether they can penalize drug companies for raising prices for people with private health insurance faster than inflation.

Republicans have argued that the mandated savings involving the private insurance market, in particular, could be considered a budget side effect of the policy rather than its main purpose, which would break Senate budget rules.

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Javed Iqbal

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