Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough will proceed to host Democratic and Republican aides behind closed doorways right this moment (no press allowed) to wash the reconciliation invoice for potential violations of the Byrd Rule.
MacDonough broke the hearts of progressives on a number of events final yr, together with when she nixed the minimal wage from the Covid reduction invoice, which was handed utilizing reconciliation, and rejected three completely different variations of immigration reform from the Democratic reconciliation invoice that was ultimately scrapped in December.
Republican funds nerds reviewing the newest reconciliation invoice nonetheless consider they’ll knock out sure provisions. On Thursday, for the newest episode of the Playbook Deep Dive podcast, we sat down with two of the occasion’s main specialists on the method: Eric Ueland, who spent 25 years within the Senate, together with as employees director of the Finances Committee, and lobbyist Greg D’Angelo, who spent almost a decade on the committee. Each males have been intimately concerned with drafting language for reconciliation payments within the Trump years — together with the profitable effort to make use of reconciliation to open the Arctic Nationwide Wildlife Refuge to grease drilling and ending the person mandate in Obamacare.
The struggle over the person mandate is instructive. MacDonough rejected the unique GOP plan to repeal the authorized requirement to have protection, which she argued ran afoul of reconciliation guidelines as a result of the coverage impact of repeal outweighed any budgetary impact, one of many core assessments of what’s allowed in a reconciliation invoice. Democrats thought that they had gained the struggle. However D’Angelo returned to MacDonough with a brand new thought: Moderately than eliminating the mandate, what in the event that they merely eradicated the tax penalty used to implement it? MacDonough agreed that retaining the mandate on the books however dialing the penalty right down to zero was inside the guidelines. (Her steerage on the difficulty led to a heated alternate behind closed doorways when Democratic employees discovered of what they perceived as her reversal.)
Within the present Byrd Bathtub debate, D’Angelo mentioned he “would focus like a laser” on three insurance policies.
1. The drug negotiation value setting program within the Democratic invoice. The coverage permits Medicare to barter prescription drug costs, which might deliver prices down for beneficiaries. To increase these financial savings to Individuals outdoors of Medicare, pharmaceutical corporations must supply pharmaceuticals to non-public insurers on the Medicare costs or face a 95 % excise tax.
“It is a tax penalty that raises no federal income,” D’Angelo mentioned. “I.E. has no funds impact, and it seems designed solely for the aim and intent of altering habits: forcing drug makers to the desk. So I might argue it is not budgetary.”
If MacDonough may be satisfied that it is “merely incidental to the coverage motive of forcing producers to the desk,” then she may strike it. (Democrats say they’re assured the coverage will survive any challenges.)
2. The repeal of the Trump administration’s drug rebate rule. “Questions are raised about whether or not it is applicable to come back in and in a single sentence, repeal a 300-page regulation, complete fabric,” D’Angelo mentioned. “That is an enormous coverage component to it, regardless of the massive budgetary impact.”
3. Forcing rebates on drug makers that increase costs sooner than inflation. “It has sweeping results with enormous prices which might be enormous coverage adjustments,” he mentioned.
On this GOP Byrd Bathtub dream situation, every domino would deliver the invoice nearer to break down. Every of those three insurance policies has financial savings of about $100 million. “Should you can knock out a type of or perhaps a portion of these, you dramatically scale back the financial savings which might be projected underneath this invoice,” D’Angelo mentioned. “And I believe it complicates the deal that almost all seems to have struck.” (Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has insisted on $300 billion in deficit discount.)
Ueland added: “If sufficient of those are knocked out or modified, then immediately you are skirting the sting of not lowering the deficit.”
The timing: MacDonough’s rulings on the prescription drug provisions of the invoice may come as early as right this moment, per Burgess and Marianne.