Washington — President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House on Tuesday, finalizing a bill to tackle climate change, cut health care costs and raise corporate taxes just weeks before the midterm elections.
The House and Senate passed the bill by party last week, after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reached an agreement after several months of negotiations. Both senators were present for Tuesday’s signing ceremony.
“Let me say from the outset, with this law, the American people won and special interests lost,” Biden told the crowd gathered at the White House. The president had to silence Cabinet members, members of Congress and staff in the audience as they continued to clap and cheer long after taking the lectern.
Passage of the bill took several months and at times seemed unlikely with a 50-50 Senate and midterm elections fast approaching. It achieves longstanding Democratic goals to cut prescription drug costs, invest in the clean energy transition and reform the nation’s tax code.
“It was one of the few truly historic days in my 30 years in Congress,” House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn said alongside Mr Biden, praising the president’s legislative achievements.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the legislation came amid “one of the most productive periods in Senate history,” in which Democrats passed gun control, expanded care for veterans exposed to burning hearths and provided billions of dollars in subsidies to boost US semiconductor production. Schumer also praised the president for steering the Cut Inflation Act to the finish line.
“I’m confident this bill will go down as one of the greatest legislative feats in decades,” Schumer said, adding that it was “the most important piece of legislation we’ve passed in a long time.”
Manchin, who was seated in the front row of the room for the signing, received a resounding round of applause when Schumer thanked him for his role in getting the bill passed. The West Virginia Democrat had rejected earlier versions of the president’s Build Back Better program, but passed the Cut Inflation Act, which was much narrower in scope. The president handed Manchin his pen after signing the bill.
The announcement of a deal between Manchin and Schumer last month surprised many Democrats. Manchin told reporters on Tuesday why he hadn’t shared how the deal worked earlier.
“I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed again because I didn’t think we could make it happen,” he said.
The new law provides $369 billion to fund energy and climate projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, the largest investment ever made in the fight against climate change. It will also limit drug spending for seniors under Medicare to $2,000 a year and allow Medicare to negotiate with drugmakers on prescription prices.
The legislation sets a minimum corporate tax rate of 15% for most large corporations and provides $80 billion in funding to the IRS, allowing the agency to hire thousands of officers and reorganize decades-old technological systems.
The president signed the bill after returning from vacation in South Carolina. First Lady Jill Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and will remain in South Carolina, but the president tested negative and returned to Washington. He is considered close to the first lady.
In the coming weeks, the White House said the president will travel across the country to explain how the bill will help Americans. He will also host an event celebrating the enactment of the bill on September 6.
Despite its name, the extent to which the bill help reduce inflation that remains to be seen. A Penn Wharton model indicates the bill will not measurably affect inflation, and the Congressional Budget Office has called the impact on inflation “negligible” this year before helping to reduce inflation. inflation in subsequent years. Yet the White House points to a letter signed by more than 120 economists promoting the bill and insisting that it will put “downward pressure on inflation by reducing the government’s budget deficit by about $300 billion over the next decade.”
A reporter remarked in Manchin on Tuesday that the CBO doesn’t think the law will do much to reduce inflation.
“They weren’t always right, I can tell you that,” he replied.
Republicans pointed to patterns suggesting the law could suppress revenue slightly.
“With the stroke of a pen, Joe Biden will ensure the end of the careers of congressional Democrats,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “Biden and the Democrats raised taxes on hard-working Americans and gave the IRS $80 billion to hire 87,000 new IRS agents. Americans will never forget that Biden and the Democrats raised taxes. taxes during a recession.”