US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) holds a press conference to support the $430 billion Democrat-sponsored drug pricing, energy and tax bill at the US Capitol in Washington, US , August 5, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats narrowly approved a sweeping climate and economy package Sunday, putting President Joe Biden and his party on the brink of a major legislative victory just three months before November’s crucial midterm elections.
After a marathon overnight Senate session, the 51-50 vote was strictly along party lines, with all Republicans voting no and all Democrats voting yes. After Vice President Kamala Harris gave the tiebreaker, Democrats gave a standing ovation.
The legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act, now heads to the House, which plans to return from its summer recess on Friday, pass the legislation and send it to Biden’s desk for signature.
“It’s been a long, hard and winding road, but we’re finally here. I know it’s been a long day and a long night. But we did it today,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor before the final vote.
“After more than a year of hard work, the Senate is making history. I am confident that the Inflation Reduction Act will stand as one of the defining legislative achievements of the 21st century.”
The 755-page bill includes $430 billion to fight climate change and expand health care coverage, paid for by savings on prescription drugs and corporate taxes. He’s putting hundreds of billions of dollars into deficit reduction.
- Most of the spending — more than $300 billion — is investments to address climate change and boost clean energy, including incentives for farmers and ranchers to reduce methane emissions. extending the electric vehicle tax credit; and launching a National Climate Bank that would invest in clean energy technologies and energy efficiency.
- The legislation would authorize Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies for the first time, lowering prescription drug prices for seniors. The savings will help pay for a three-year extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies that would prevent expected increase in insurance premiums which were to enter into force in 2023.
- The package includes a cap on the price of insulin for seniors on Medicare, but Republicans successfully removed a $35 cap on insulin on the private market.
- The bill also raises revenue through a new 15 percent minimum tax on large corporations, though it would exclude accelerated depreciation — a key request of centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who has drawn several tax changes from leadership before boarding the package.
- Sinema also successfully eliminated a provision to close the carried interest tax loophole benefiting private equity and hedge fund managers. It was replaced, with Sinema’s support, by a 1% excise duty on share buybacks which actually brings in more revenue than the carried interest provision would have.
The legislation came together quickly. Less than two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.V., announced surprise deal on some of the major party agenda items that many Democrats believed had no chance of becoming law this year.
Democrats see the sweeping package as the latest in an unusual series legislative victories for a Congress usually mired in partisan gridlock. There was a $1 trillion infrastructure package last year, the most important gun reform legislation in a generation, a major semiconductor and science competitiveness package, a bill to help pit-exposed veterans, and a vote on Finland’s accession and of Sweden in NATO amid a showdown with Russia.
“Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are supporting Big Oil, they’re standing up to Big Pharma to protect their profits, and we’ve been trying for years” to lower costs, said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., head of the Democratic Policy Committee. on NBC News.
“This is the great moment here with these forces,” he said, “and the people will win.”
Sen. Cory Booker, DN.J., a progressive and one-time Biden 2020 presidential opponent, also noted recent steps by Congress.
“I don’t know if there’s been a Congress and a president that has been as productive as we’ve seen in this Congress,” he said in an interview. “This president continues to file historic bills that meet the urgent needs of the American public.”