State, national business community reacts to passage of massive reconciliation bill

Business community advocates in Arizona and Washington, D.C. weighed in following Sunday’s party-line passage of a massive tax and drug price control bill in the United States Senate.

The legislation is estimated to contain $430 billion in new spending and $740 billion in new revenue from taxes and increased IRS enforcement, although the Congressional Budget Office on Saturday said it had not yet completed its analysis of the bill. 

The bill, which is now headed to the House for a Friday vote, began its path to passage late last month after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., announced that he and Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., had reached agreement on a slimmed-down version of the Build Back Better bill, sweeping tax and policy legislation championed by progressives but rejected by Manchin and fellow Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona late last year.

After successfully negotiating the removal of language that would have taxed carried forward interest, Sinema announced she would support the bill following a final ruling from the Senate parliamentarian on which elements of the Schumer-Manchin agreement could proceed under the Senate’s reconciliation rules, which allow for a bill to pass with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes usually required to end debate on legislation.

“We have agreed to remove the carried interest tax provision, protect advanced manufacturing, and boost our clean energy economy in the Senate’s budget reconciliation legislation,” Sinema said last Thursday evening. “Subject to the Parliamentarian’s review, I’ll move forward.”

The bill, now dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, began to move on Saturday and debate stretched into Sunday following the consideration of dozens of amendments. 

The marathon “vote-a-rama” concluded with a successful amendment by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., which narrowed the bill’s negative effects on small and medium-sized businesses. Sinema, Ariz. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly and a handful of their fellow Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the Thune amendment, which was then further amended on a party-line vote with a measure from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the tie-breaking vote in the 50-50 Senate on the final version of the bill. 

“This bill will not reduce inflation and it will not make the U.S. economy more competitive. Renaming a massive tax and spending bill the Inflation Reduction Act does not improve it,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden said following the bill’s passage. “Arizona job creators oppose the vast majority of the provisions in this bill.”

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, which launched television and digital advertising in Arizona in the days leading up to the vote aimed at convincing Arizona’s senators to oppose the bill, said the legislation would harm the U.S economy.

“This legislation will stifle manufacturing investment in America, undermining the very businesses that saved humanity during a pandemic and kept our economy afloat during the worst period of economic uncertainty in our lifetimes,” he said on Twitter.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business also launched advertising campaigns ahead of the vote.

Despite their concerns with the bulk of the bill, both NAM and the Chamber agreed that Sinema’s work prevented the bill from being even more damaging.

“To be sure, it was worse before Sen. Sinema worked to protect some areas of manufacturing investment,” Timmons said. “But the final bill is still bad policy and will harm our ability to compete in a global economy.”

Seiden agreed.

“We appreciate Sen. Sinema for taking the time to listen to Arizona business community feedback on this legislation while it was being crafted. She kept an open line of communication throughout. We thank her for her successful effort to blunt the bill’s harm to small- and medium-sized businesses, and for her desire to improve the legislation in a way that protects advanced manufacturing, encourages continued business investment, spurs the production of American-made clean energy, and provides significant drought resiliency funding to promote a water secure future,” he said. “Despite the bill’s positive aspects, however, the overall bill leaves much to be desired.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America strongly criticized the bill’s imposition of drug price controls in Medicare.

“This drug pricing plan is based on a litany of false promises. They say they’re fighting inflation, but the Biden administration’s own data show that prescription medicines are not fueling inflation,” PhRMA President and CEO Stephen Ubl said. “They say this is ‘negotiation,’ but the bill gives the government unchecked authority to set the price of medicines. And they say the bill won’t harm innovation, but various experts, biotech investors and patient advocates agree that this bill will lead to fewer new cures and treatments for patients battling cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.”

The House of Representatives will vote on the bill on Friday, where it again is expected to pass on strictly party lines, before heading to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Robert Clarke

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