WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin voting this weekend on a filibuster-proof inflation reduction package that includes key health, climate, and deficit reduction initiatives.  Through a process known as ‘budget reconciliation,’ the U.S. Senate is expected to begin consideration of the package on Saturday afternoon.  Under Senate rules, Senators from both parties may offer unlimited amendments that are to be voted on around the clock (known as ‘vote-a-rama’), until a vote on final passage, which requires a simple majority.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed supports the deficit reduction package, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, and says it will help generate real savings for American families and taxpayers, lowering costs that strain family budgets and reducing the federal deficit while also supporting U.S. job growth, making America more energy-efficient and energy-independent, and combatting climate change. 

“The bill will help relieve key inflationary pressures and boost the purchasing power of working Americans and seniors on fixed-incomes.  It focuses on deficit reduction, historic investments in clean energy and climate change, and long overdue reforms to lower health costs.  It saves taxpayers billions on prescription drugs and will help keep health premiums more affordable for all,” said Senator Reed.  “It’s fiscally responsible and pays for expenditures by closing existing tax loopholes that for too long have allowed the largest corporations to escape paying their fair share of taxes.”

“I support this bill because it will help working families, lower deficits, create jobs, and boost private investment.  I wish the bill went further, but for the first time the Senate is on a path to lower drug costs for seniors by finally giving Medicare bargaining power, and we’re going address the climate crisis in an historic way.  If you care about the cost of medicine, if you care about the cost of health insurance, if you care about making sure the wealthiest corporations pay at least a minimum tax, and if you care about fighting climate change – this bill is for you,” noted Reed.

Highlights of the bill include:

Allowing Medicare to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices

Under current law, the federal government is prohibited from directly negotiating drug prices.  The bill would allow Medicare to directly negotiate prescription drug prices with big pharmaceutical companies, saving the federal government an estimated $288 billion over the next decade.  The bill also includes a $2,000 out-of-pocket cap for older adults buying prescriptions from pharmacies, would provide free vaccinations for seniors, and helps keep health insurance affordable for millions of Americans.  Reed is also pushing to include a $35 monthly cap on insulin in the plan, which would benefit thousands of Rhode Islanders.

“I’ve been advocating for years to empower Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and offer new benefits for seniors.  This bill is a major leap forward.  It will open the door to achieving real cost savings on prescription drugs,” said Reed.

Investing in American Clean Energy Production & Tackling Climate Change

The bill would invest $369 billion over the next decade to help fight climate change by ramping up America's wind, solar, geothermal, battery storage, and other clean energy technologies.  The package represents the single biggest climate investment in U.S. history and would bring down consumer energy costs while putting America on a path to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent over 2005 levels by 2030.  The bill would extend clean energy tax credits for American households and create significant incentivizes for the production and manufacturing of American-made clean energy technologies.

It will also expand tax credits for electric vehicles and provide new consumer rebates energy-efficient home appliances and retrofits.

“This bill isn’t radical or revolutionary, and frankly we should do more to combat climate change.  But it will steer us toward a cleaner energy future by ensuring renewable energy competes on a much more even playing field with fossil fuels.  That’s a significant departure from the status quo.  It also ensures that working families and communities, not just corporations, reap the economic gains of clean energy investments.  And notably for the Ocean State, the bill provides billions to protect our coastal habitats and help make coastal communities more resilient to climate disasters,” said Reed.

Paying Down Deficits

Under the law, any reconciliation bill like the IRA must be at least deficit neutral.  The preliminary non-partisan CBO estimates the legislation would actually cut the deficit more than $100 billion over the next decade, and outside experts project the bill will generate over $200 billion in additional deficit reduction by enhancing the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to crack down on tax avoidance by the wealthiest individuals and corporations.  This will generate a total of over $300 billion in deficit reduction.

Reed urged Congress to pass this measure and says Congress must work together to address additional issues such as affordable housing, child care costs, food prices and other key factors that are taking a bite out of Americans’ wallets.