WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday threatened to derail a bill aimed at boosting U.S. semiconductor manufacturing if Democrats reinvigorate their package of energy and economic initiatives in the United States. dead point.
Rejuvenation of the Democratic reconciliation package, central to President Joe Biden’s agenda, is far from certain. But with some signs of progress in negotiations, McConnell is poised to complicate Democratic plans. He warns that Republicans would react by blocking separate semiconductor legislation from crossing the finish line in the coming weeks, despite his bipartisan support.
“Let me be perfectly clear: There will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats pursue a partisan reconciliation bill,” McConnell tweeted, referring to the shortened name of the bullet bill. computers adopted by the Senate last year.
Both houses of Congress have passed their versions of the legislation, which would include $52 billion in incentives for companies to locate chip factories in the United States. Lawmakers are now trying to reconcile the sweeping differences between the two bills, but at a pace that has many supporters fearing the job will be done before lawmakers break for their August recess.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said McConnell was “holding hostage” a bipartisan package that would cut the cost of countless products that rely on semiconductors and create hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.
“Senate Republicans are literally choosing to help China compete with the United States in order to protect Big Pharma,” Jean-Pierre said. in the face of this outrageous threat.”
Democrats have considered using reconciliation – a special budget process – to push parts of their agenda through the Senate 50-50, as it allows them to circumvent the filibuster and pass laws by simple majority . It was expected that any new reconciliation package pursued by Democrats would include provisions to reduce drug prices for many consumers.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. and Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., have spoken on and off for months in an effort to hammer out a scaled-down version of the huge environmental and social measure Manchin killed in December.
As part of that campaign, Democrats are expected to submit language reducing prescription drug costs to the House Congressman in the coming days, according to an official familiar with the process.
Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough must say the provisions follow Senate rules. This would allow Democrats to use special procedures that would allow them to approve legislation in the House 50-50 over unanimous Republican opposition.
The prescription drug provisions would be crucial to the bill because they could produce hundreds of billions of dollars in savings by reducing federal costs.
These savings would be used to pay for other initiatives dealing with climate, energy and possibly health care subsidies for low-wage earners. Schumer and Manchin have yet to reach an agreement on other potential parts of the bill, which Schumer hopes the Senate will consider as soon as late July.
The prescription drug provisions would allow Medicare to begin negotiating the prices of drugs it buys from manufacturers next year and increase federal subsidies for premiums and coinsurance for some low-income people, according to a summary obtained by The Associated Press.
It would also cap out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 per year, payable in monthly installments; make it harder for drug companies to raise prices by forcing them to give discounts if the cost exceeds inflation and make vaccines free for Medicare beneficiaries, according to the plan.
The now-defunct version of the legislation would have cost about $2 trillion over a decade and cleared the House. But Manchin, who had negotiated with party leaders for months and needed Democrats to vote, abruptly said he opposed it, arguing it would have fueled inflation.
Some Democrats expressed optimism that the effort could be revived. Others expressed pessimism about the possibility of striking a new election-year deal with West Virginia as the Senate calendar shrinks.
“To his credit, Senator Schumer is much more optimistic than I am,” Senate Democratic Leader No. 2 Richard Durbin of Illinois told reporters Thursday in Madrid, where Biden and lawmakers were attending a summit. NATO. “So maybe before the end of the year they will deliver this miraculous bill, but I will continue to work within the 60-vote environment.”
It was a reference to the 60 votes, including the support of at least 10 Republicans, that major legislation typically needs to pass the Senate.
The semiconductor legislation will need the support of at least 10 Republicans in the Senate, and possibly more, to get a bill to Biden’s office to be signed into law. If McConnell refuses his support, it makes the job much more difficult, if not impossible, as other GOP lawmakers follow his lead.
Supporters of the semiconductor legislation include the nation’s automakers and the nation’s largest tech companies. They have intensified their lobbying in recent weeks with congressional leaders, saying the bill’s provisions boosting investment in research, workforce development and domestic manufacturing are essential if the United States is to compete with other countries, especially China.
Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Madrid contributed to this report.
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