A divided Congress gave final approval Friday to Democrats major climate and health care billgiving President Joe Biden an immortal triumph on coveted priorities that the party hopes will bolster their prospects for retaining their hold on Congress in November’s elections.
The House of Representatives used a party line vote of 220-207 to pass the legislation, which is but a shadow of the larger and more ambitious plan to add environmental and social programs that Biden and his party envisioned earlier this year. passed. Still, Democrats happily claimed victory on high-level goals like securing Congress’ biggest-ever investment in curbing carbon emissions, curbing pharmaceutical costs and taxing big companies, a vote they believe will show that they could derail achievements from a routinely gridlocked Washington that often frustrates voters.
“Today is a day of celebration, a day that we take another giant step in our important agenda,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She said the measure “fits the moment, ensuring our families thrive and our planet survives. .
Republicans staunchly opposed the legislation, calling it a cornucopia of liberal pipe dreams that would raise taxes and raise families’ costs of living. They did the same on Sunday, but Senate Democrats banded together and used the waning vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.o mass power across that room 50-50.
“Democrats, more than any other majority in history, are addicted to spending other people’s money, regardless of what we as a country can afford,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “I can almost see joy in their eyes.”
Biden’s original 10-year, $3.5 trillion proposal also called for free kindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanding Medicare benefits and easing immigration restrictions. That crashed after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said it was too costly, using the influence each Democrat has in the evenly divided Senate.
However, the final legislation remained substantial. Its pillar is about $375 billion over 10 years to encourage industry and consumers to switch from carbon emissions to cleaner forms of energy. This includes $4 billion to deal with the West’s catastrophic drought.
The spending, tax credits and loans would bolster technology such as solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emissions reduction equipment for coal and gas-fired power plants, and air pollution controls for farms, ports and communities with low income.
Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums over the next three years for privately purchased health insurance. Medicare would gain the power to negotiate its own costs for pharmaceuticals, starting in 2026 for just 10 drugs. Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket prescription costs will be capped at $2,000 starting in 2025, and starting next year they will pay no more than $35 a month for insulin, the pricey diabetes drug.
The bill would raise about $740 billion in revenue over the decade, more than a third of which comes from government savings from lower drug prices. More will come from higher taxes on about $1 billion in corporations, taxes on companies repurchasing their stock and stronger IRS tax collections. About $300 billion will be left to cover budget deficits, a sliver of the period’s projected $16 trillion total.
Amid Republican attacks on the FBI over its court-authorized search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate for sensitive documents, Republicans have repeatedly hammered increasing the IRS budget bill. That aims to collect about $120 billion in unpaid taxes over the next decade, and Republicans have fraudulently claimed that the IRS will hire 87,000 agents to target average families.
Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., said Democrats would also “arm” the IRS with agents, “many of whom will be trained in the use of deadly force, to go after every American citizen.” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Thursday on “Fox and Friends” if there would be an “IRS strike force that comes in with AK-15s already loaded, ready to shoot a small business person.”
Few IRS personnel are armed, and Democrats say the bill’s $80 billion, 10-year budget boost would be replacing waves of retirees, not just agents, and modernizing equipment. They have said that typical households and small businesses will not be targeted, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen instructing the IRS this week not to “increase the share of small businesses or households below the $400,000 threshold” that would be audited. .
Republicans say the legislation’s new business taxes will raise prices, worsening the nation’s run of its worst inflation since 1981. Although Democrats have labeled the measure the Inflation Reduction Act, nonpartisan analysts say it will have a barely noticeable impact on prices.
of The GOP also says the bill would raise taxes on low- and middle-income families. An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, which did not include the bill’s health care and energy tax breaks, estimated that the corporate tax hike would marginally affect those taxpayers, but indirectly, in part due to low stock prices and wages.
The bill covers three months in which Congress has passed legislation on veterans’ benefits, the semiconductor industry, gun controls for new buyers and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO. All passed with bipartisan support, suggesting Republicans also want to show their productive side.
It’s unclear whether voters will reward Democrats for the legislation after months of painfully high inflation dominating voters’ attention and Biden’s dangerously low popularity with the public and a steady history of midterm elections hitting the party that holds the House of Representatives. White.
The bill had its roots in early 2021, after Congress passed a $1.9 trillion measure over GOP opposition to combat the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Emboldened, the new president and his party went further.
They called their $3.5 trillion plan “The Better Build.” In addition to social and environmental initiatives, he proposed rolling back Trump-era tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations and $555 billion for climate efforts, far more than the resources in Friday’s legislation.
With Manchin disputing these amounts, it split a roughly $2 trillion measure that Democrats passed the House of Representatives in November. He abruptly sank that bill, too, earning scorn from exasperated fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill and the White House.
Recent gas talks between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., seemed fruitless until both unexpectedly announced the deal last month for the new package.
Manchin won billions for carbon capture technology for the fossil fuel industries he supports, plus procedures for more oil drilling on federal lands and promises of faster permitting for energy projects. Central Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., also won concessions, eliminating higher taxes planned for hedge fund managers and helping drought funds win.