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Congress is poised to pass President Biden’s legislative signature after Senate Democrats approved a major climate, health care and tax bill on Sunday.
“It’s been a long, hard and winding road but finally, finally, we’ve arrived,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said ahead of Sunday’s vote, which came after more than 24 hours of debate and voting on amendments to the Inflation Reduction Act. The measure passed after Vice President Kamala Harris voted in the event of a tie.
The vote is a boost for the president, who ended his isolation at the White House on Sunday after testing negative a second time for COVID. Although his approval ratings are still underwater, Biden has witnessed an unusual series of good news: number of successful jobs to bipartisan legislation passed by Congress, and the assassination of a terrorist leader. Democrats, meanwhile, have plenty to campaign for less than three months before the midterm elections, where they are expected to lose ground.
In a statement released after the Senate voted on the roughly $700 billion package, Biden said “doing the important thing almost always” requires compromise. Indeed, Democrats were initially considering a $3.5 trillion package.
“I ran for president promising to make government work for working families again, and that’s what this bill does — period,” Biden said. He also urged the House to pass the bill where possible so he could sign it.
That could happen as early as Friday, when the House is due back from vacation.
“The House will come back and act quickly to send this bill to the President’s desk — proudly building a healthier, cleaner, fairer future for all Americans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. a statement.
With less than three months to go until the midterm elections, Democrats are eager to move beyond their internal divisions and tout the accomplishments they’ve been able to secure in Congress over the past few months: bipartisan gun reform fire, a veterans health care bill and tougher semiconductor legislation. chip production in the United States
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., who had appeared skeptical of the measure, said in a statement Sunday that he would vote for it.
“This bill passes my key test that I have insisted on since day one: It does not raise taxes for individuals, families or small businesses in my district,” he said.
What’s in the bill
The measure includes several important policy changes. It includes about $370 billion for climate change policies, including tax credits for electric vehicles and money for renewable energy programs. Democrats say these investments will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
“Very few laws will ever have the kind of impact that this climate bill will have, not just for the United States, but for the whole world,” Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said after adoption of the measure. the Senate floor.
Additionally, the bill allows Medicare to negotiate prices for certain prescription drugs and caps the cost of out-of-pocket costs that people on Medicare pay at $2,000 per year, starting in 2025. The powerful industry lobby pharmaceutical has been against it for years.
The bill also extends grants for the Affordable Care Act that were part of a pandemic relief bill for three years.
Tax changes include a minimum corporate tax of 15% and an excise tax on share buybacks that will bring in about $300 billion in new revenue to reduce the deficit.
Senate Republicans were united in their opposition to the package.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, in a statement, criticized the bill, saying it would make the deficit worse.
“Democrats have proven time and time again that they simply don’t care about the priorities of middle-class families,” he said in a statement. “They spent 18 months proving it. They just spent hundreds of billions of dollars proving it again.”
Democrats, however, argue that the bill will not worsen inflation and will in fact reduce it, citing other studies.
A boost for Biden
News of the bill’s passage caps a slew of good news for the president. The week started with Biden announcing the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Senate then passed a bipartisan measure to provide health care and benefits to million veterans injured by exposure to toxins, from Agent Orange in Vietnam to flames in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both came a week after the Senate passed a major industrial bill aimed at investing billions in US-made technologies like semiconductors.
As recently announced last month, the Democrats’ spending package appeared dead after more than a year of infighting between moderates and progressives over the size and scope of the proposal.
Schumer and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin secretly renewed talks about 10 days ago and set the framework in place. Most Democrats were skeptical after Manchin pulled out of talks citing inflation concerns just days before the deal was announced. Democrats also needed the vote of Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who forced leaders to scrap a provision targeting how hedge funds and private equity funds are taxed.