Electric cars, drug costs and more: 5 battles Democrats could lose on their bill

Electric cars, drug costs and more: 5 battles Democrats could lose on their bill

But the Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), whose panel has overseen the drafting of huge chunks of the bill, expressed no concerns about the outstanding policy issues or the rushed timeline.

“We have been preparing for this … for about a year and a half. We went out and hired people like basketball stars because they are so knowledgeable about how to successfully operate this extraordinary procedural gauntlet,” said Wyden, a former college player himself.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released an official estimate Wednesday that the Democrats’ overall bill, as currently written, would reduce deficits by about $101.5 billion over a decade, not including provisions that strengthen IRS enforcement. Including those measures, the deficit reduction would total $305 billion, the CBO said.

Of course, the bill may not survive intact as Democrats race to finish it this week. Here are five provisions that may need to be removed or changed under Senate budget rules:

Limiting insulin costs

Democrats plan to try a significant addition to their larger legislation: a $35-a-month cap on what people can pay out-of-pocket for insulin. They know full well that the Republicans could easily reject it; the measure raises an obvious red flag under budget rules, as it may target pharmaceutical companies’ finances more than the state treasury.

Under Senate rules, any part of the Democrats’ bill must have a significant effect on federal spending, revenue and debt. Democrats must show that any proposed policy changes still primarily affect the federal budget and are not just a “side effect.”

Sen. Richard Burr (RN.C.), the top Republican on the Senate Relief and Works Committee, said Wednesday that providing insulin would challenge the GOP.

Savings on prescription drugs

The Senate’s nonpartisan rules arbitrator spent more than a week reviewing Democrats’ drug pricing plans. While provisions that would allow Medicare to negotiate higher drug costs appear more likely to pass, Democrats’ push to penalize drug companies when they raise prices for those with private health insurance poses a bigger hurdle.

The savings resulting from this mandate, which includes the private insurance market, could be considered a budgetary side effect of the policy rather than its primary purpose, which would violate Senate budget rules. Some budget experts suggest the measure has a chance to survive, but caution that no one has a crystal ball when it comes to the lawmaker.

Credit limits for electric cars

Some of the bill’s new terms for receiving a $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicle purchases may also come under scrutiny. Under the current proposal, a vehicle qualifies for a full credit only if the batteries are made with materials from the US or countries that have trade agreements with the US

The requirements are intended to satisfy Sen. To Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) concerns that the electric vehicle industry is relying too heavily on China. But these conditions could once again raise the question of whether or not the policy being created outweighs its effect on the federal budget.

Leasing of public land for energy production

Another provision Democrats may need to revisit is a requirement that the Interior Department auction off at least 2 million acres of land within a year for onshore oil and gas leases before allowing solar and wind projects on public lands.

Opponents of the proposal argue that its policy impact outweighs its budgetary effects because it makes solar and wind development on federal lands dependent on leasing to oil producers.

Closing a tax loophole

Democrats want to close a loophole that allows wealthy private equity and hedge fund managers to pay less in taxes, known as carried interest. But Arizona Sen. Christmas moviethe only Democrat who has yet to sign the bill is looking to eliminate that carried interest, which is declining as he weighs whether to support the entire package.

Before Democrats can pass their bill with a simple majority, senators must endure an all-night amendment marathon known as a “frame vote.” During that period, Republicans could have proposed an amendment to strike down the carried-interest language — and would likely succeed in removing it in a 50-50 Senate vote, as long as Sinema sided with them.

“We’ve looked at it every which way,” Wyden said when asked about potential changes to win Sinema’s vote. “And any way you look at it, we’re saying there’s something that needs to change when you have billion-dollar corporations paying lower tax rates than nurses and firefighters.”

Josh Siegel contributed to this report.

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