US President Joe Biden, combating low ratings until recently, went with a heads-up into the November 8 midterms for the 435-member house of representatives with a string of successes including the historic passage yesterday of his $750 billion dollar climate change bill bunched with health care and inflation reduction that was voted 220-207 by the congress yesterday.
The last piece of action in this drama is now the President’s desk, where Biden will sign it into law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 under a UN charter, provide healthcare to poor at affordable rates, cap prescription drug prices, and reduce a 40-year high inflation, stalking the nation.
The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act represents a major victory for Democrats ahead of the November midterm elections, climaxing nearly a year of on-again, off-again internal negotiations and defying numerous near-death experiences for the bill. The House vote was 220-207, breaking evenly along party lines as Democrats unified to support the bill while Republicans unanimously voted against it.
The legislation – which was passed by the Senate a week ago, in a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie – now goes to Biden, who plans to sign it into law next week.
“We’ve had a lot of achievements under President Biden: the rescue package and infrastructure bill and CHIPS and Science. It’s quite a collection. But this is remarkable. This is a source of joy.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told NBC News on Friday.
Biden chided Republicans for opposing the legislation in a video he tweeted after the vote. “Today, the American people won and the special interests lost, finally,” Biden said.
“The Democrats sided with the American people and the Republicans sided with special interests. That’s the choice we face: whether we protect the already powerful or have the courage to build a future where everybody has an even shot.”
Biden called the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act a ‘historic moment’.
In the run-up to the vote, Pelosi highlighted four key provisions in the bill: Empowering medicare to negotiate drug prices, extending Affordable Care Act funding for three years, enacting a series of energy and climate change provisions, and reducing the deficit.
The legislation would raise about $700 billion through rise in corporate tax and prescription drug savings, and it would spend about $400 billion on clean energy and health care provisions.
It was a rare defeat for the pharmaceutical lobby on Capitol Hill. But other influential industries, like private equity, defeated some of the provisions that would have negatively affected them.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted that: “The Inflation Reduction Act will endure as one of the defining legislative feats of the 21st century.”
GOP hits ‘half a trillion spending spree’. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pushed all Republicans to vote against the bill, calling it “half a trillion spending spree that would raise taxes during a recession.”
“When this bill comes to the House, I urge everyone to vote No,” he said in a recent statement.
The package falls far short of what most Democrats had wanted, with safety net items stripped out by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and a slew of tax increases blocked by Sen.
Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
But privately, Pelosi’s message to colleagues was: Judge the bill for what it does, not what it doesn’t do. In the end, Democrats embraced it. Sinema’s amendment for a flat 15 per cent corporate tax instead of the original carried interest tax would actually generate more billions in revenues for the government.
Sen Manchin of West Virginia, who feared higher inflation with a huge public spend on climate change, was appeased when the original Build Back Better initiative of Biden was trimmed to $1.9 trillion from an estimated near $3 trillion, which independent Vermont Bernie Sanders called an utter disappointment from the original Biden act.
Moderate Democrats said it would cut costs on energy and health care, citing the deficit savings to argue it would reduce inflation. “I think it is absolutely phenomenal for Ohio,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who is running for Senate in a Republican-leaning state.