Sep 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats' pre-election push

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) speaks during the signing ceremony for The Inflation Reduction Act with President Joe Biden at the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks during the signing ceremony for The Inflation Reduction Act with President Biden at the White House. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Senate Democrats hope to hold votes on same-sex marriage, capping insulin costs and an antitrust bill in the final sprint before the midterms.

The big picture: One Democratic leadership aide called those three bills the "icing" on Democrats' legislative cake, and Democrats believe holding votes on those measures will help them keep their majority in November.

  • Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is heading into the final stretch feeling confident after a successful summer session, his team tells Axios.

Where it stands: Schumer (D-N.Y.) will dedicate much of this week to prioritizing the confirmation of circuit court judges, aide Justin Goodman tells Axios.

  • Two legislative priorities that must get done by the end of September also will take priority: a continuing resolution to keep the government funded, and a reauthorization of FDA user fees.

What's next: Democrats are eager to codify the right to same-sex marriage into federal law, in a bid to preempt challenges to that right in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

  • The bill received wide GOP support in the House, with 47 Republicans voting in favor of the legislation, and Schumer says he's committed to giving bipartisan talks a chance. Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Tammy Baldwin have been leading the talks with Republicans.

Antitrust: Schumer said he is committed to holding a vote on antitrust legislation led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), but has yet to lay out a timeline for it. This bill could get pushed to the side by other priorities.

Insulin: Schumer promised to hold a vote this fall on legislation capping the price of insulin at $35 after that policy was stripped from the Inflation Reduction Act by the Senate parliamentarian and Republicans blocked its passage as an amendment.

The intrigue: It's not yet clear whether the Senate will take up the Electoral Count Act before the election, or wait for the lame-duck session.

  • Introduced in July by a bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), it would modernize an 1887 law to clarify the role of vice presidents in certifying presidential elections.
  • Grassley recently signed on to the bill, making him the 10th Senate Republican co-sponsor and significantly increasing the measure's chances.
  • If passed by the House and Senate, it would mark the first major legislative response to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol besides security measures and the creation of the House select committee investigating the attack.
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