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House Democrats on Friday passed a $739 billion climate change, tax hike and health care bill, boosting President Biden’s domestic agenda at a time of record high inflation and low approval numbers for presidential jobs.
In a vote of 220 to 207, the House voted along party lines to pass the legislation. Every Democrat supported the bill despite opposition from all Republicans except three who did not vote.
“Today is truly a glorious day for us,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “We are sending to the President’s Office a monumental bill that will be real to the people.”
Republicans vehemently opposed the bill, arguing that its provisions will worsen the US economy and impose new burdens on American workers.
“Remember this day,” said Kevin McCarthy, leader of the House Minority, of R-Calif. “When the Democrats flipped a 700-page bill that raises your taxes and doubles the IRS.”
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President Biden smiles during his remarks before signing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington on November 15, 2021.
The legislation, already passed by the Senate, now goes to the president, who is expected to sign it soon. The passage is a victory for Biden, whose fledgling White House tenure was rocked by 40 years of high inflation, recession and falling polls.
“This bill reflects a lot of what we wanted to see — not everything we wanted to see — let me be clear about that, but it’s a very important step forward,” said House Majority leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “It will reduce the deficit, lower costs and expand access to affordable health care while making the largest investment in history to tackle the global climate crisis.”
Democrats began working on the bill shortly after Biden took office. Originally called Build Back Better, the legislation was presented as an ambitious overhaul of the country’s economy and climate infrastructure.
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With a price tag of more than $3.5 trillion, that iteration of the legislation fell apart in the face of Democratic divisions within the 50-50 Senate.
Senator Joe Manchin, in particular, refused to support the bill last year over concerns it would exacerbate inflation. The opposition from the West Virginia Democrat was enough to derail the bill, as widespread GOP opposition meant the only way to get the bill through the Senate was through a party-line process known as budget reconciliation.
Despite Manchin’s opposition, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., worked to revive the package. The Inflation Reduction Act emerged from those private negotiations between Schumer and Manchin.
sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, left (F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images); Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The bill allows Medicare to negotiate the price of a number of life-saving prescription drugs from 2023. Democrats say the move will save the government $288 billion over the next decade.
“Democrats have been fighting for years to lower drug prices, and this bill allows Medicare to negotiate with drug companies,” said D-Mass Representative James McGovern. “It limits the out-of-pocket cost of insulin to $35 for people on Medicare…if you take Medicare, you don’t have to pay more than $2,000 a year for your prescriptions.
The Manchin-Schumer Act also imposes a 15% minimum tax on businesses, a move expected to bring in $313 billion. Democrats also say investing in the Internal Revenue Service could save them another $124 billion.
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In total, the bill proposes to raise $739 billion. Of that amount, $369 billion is planned to go into climate change subsidies to try to meet Biden’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. Another $64 billion will go toward expanding ObamaCare grants.
The rest of the new revenue, more than $300 billion, will go toward paying back the deficit.