Democrats in the US Senate, despite uniform Republican opposition, on Sunday approved sweeping legislation to combat climate change, cut health care costs and raise taxes on highly profitable corporations.
The measure, a scaled-down version of President Joe Biden’s long-stalled economic legislative plan, narrowly passed 51-50, with the tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Kamala Harris after hours of debate through Saturday night. and then spilled over into a rare Sunday afternoon session.
After casting the deciding vote, Harris stood up and applauded Democrats for passing the legislation. Many of the Republicans, knowing they had lost, had already left the chamber.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called it “one of the defining legislative parties of the 21st century.”
“The Senate is making history,” he said.
The legislation calls for the largest U.S. investment to attack the effects of global warming, $370 billion to boost clean energy use, encourage Americans to buy electric vehicles and reduce plant-heating emissions by 40 percent to 2030.
The legislation would also for the first time authorize the US government to negotiate the cost of some drugs with pharmaceutical companies to potentially reduce the cost of drugs for older Americans, extend health insurance subsidies for millions of people and impose a minimum tax. 15% to companies that now pay nothing. The bill would also add 87,000 more federal tax officers to further scrutinize individual and corporate tax returns to catch tax fraudsters and reduce the chronic US budget deficit by about $300 billion.
The measure narrowly survived a key test vote on Saturday by a 51-50 margin, also with Harris casting the tiebreaking vote after all 50 Senate Democrats supported the legislation and the 50-member Republican caucus uniformly opposed it. . Lawmakers then offered numerous amendments during hours of debate that often failed by predictable 50-50 votes, with neither party yielding to support each other’s proposed changes.
In a statement issued Sunday, President Biden said, “I want to thank Leader Schumer and all members of the Senate Democratic Caucus for supporting this bill. It required many compromises. Doing important things almost always does.
“The House should pass this as soon as possible and I look forward to signing it into law,” the statement said.
Democrats engaged in months of rancorous debates over what was originally a $2 trillion measure, what Biden called his Build Back Better plan. Now, with American consumers worried about the biggest increase in consumer prices in four decades, an annualized increase of 9.1% in June, Democrats called the reduced legislation the Inflation Reduction Act.
However, the review of the legislation by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill’s provisions would have a “negligible effect” on inflation through the rest of 2022 and little effect next year.
The entire legislation seemed doomed until Schumer, with the approval of Biden, was recently able to reach an agreement with two centrist Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, on tax and control provisions. climate change in the proposal they would accept.
As debate opened on Saturday, before lawmakers from both parties offered their ultimately unsuccessful series of amendments, Schumer said: “This landmark bill will reduce inflation, it will reduce costs, it will combat climate change, and it is time to move this nation forward.”
Now that the Senate has passed the measure, the House is expected to break its summer recess and pass it on Friday and send it to the White House for Biden’s signature.
The debate also played out on Sunday television talk shows.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who supported the legislation, told the show “State of the Union” of that its passage would give the Internal Revenue Service’s tax collection agency the expanded staff it needs to “pursue” tax fraud and “top earners.”
He also noted that Americans “overwhelmingly want to lower the cost of their drugs,” a provision that could be achieved for some prescription drugs for older Americans under the nation’s Medicare health insurance program.
But Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who opposed the bill, took issue with Blumenthal’s analysis of the measure, saying prosecutors are “going after Uber drivers and nurses.” They’re chasing everyone.”
He added that the legislation “is going to make everything worse. won’t help [cortar] inflation”.