- House passes bold climate and health care bill, capping a string of recent legislative victories for President Joe Biden.
- The $739 billion Inflation Reduction Act will increase taxes on certain businesses and is expected to reduce the deficit by about $100 billion over the next decade.
WASHINGTON — The House on Friday passed the Inflation Reduction Act along party lines, rounding out a string of recent victories for President Joe Biden.
The House voted 220-207, with Republicans not joining Democrats in support of the bill.
It now goes to Biden, who is expected to sign the law next week after months of negotiations between moderate and progressive Democrats, who finally reached an agreement late last month.
“We are united!,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, USA TODAY. “(Democrats are) all in this together. We’re all making the lives of the American people better.”
The sweeping health, climate and tax legislation passed the Senate 51-50 last week along party lines after a 15-hour session of debate, amendments and negotiations that culminated in the casting of Vice President Kamala Harris’ casting vote. .
“There are some days in a congressional career that feel really historic. To me, this is one of them,” said House Majority Whip James Clyburn, DC, on the floor ahead of the vote.
“This legislation is historic, it’s transformative and really a cause for celebration,” D-Calif. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference ahead of the vote.
House Republicans criticized the Inflation Reduction Act as exaggerated, saying the billions of dollars in spending would not solve inflation.
“Today, the majority is bogged down by another spending wave,” House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy said in his nearly 50-minute speech on the floor ahead of the vote. “I believe it’s the largest tone-deaf bill we’ve seen in this room in 230 years.
“Passing this bill today means more expensive bills for Americans tomorrow.”
Some voters, and progressive lawmakers such as Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have said the Inflation Reduction Act is not doing enough to immediately ease the pressure on working families. He voted for the measure despite his lukewarm support, saying the bill was a worthy deposit and signaling to other progressives to support it too.
More:Here’s how the Inflation Reduction Act can save consumers money and protect the planet
It’s hard to show how the bill translates into immediate, meaningful change for Americans’ wallets, said Casey Burgat, program director for legislative affairs at George Washington University.
But it is “an enormously important piece of legislation,” he said. “It is a thoroughly democratic bill. It’s not as big as they wanted it to be, but it’s what’s reasonable in a 50-50 Senate heading for a midterm.”
This vote follows a productive summer for Democrats, which passed a gun control bill, the CHIPS bill to boost high-tech manufacturing and the PACT bill to help veterans exposed to toxic fire pits, as well as approving the entry of Finland and Sweden to NATO.
That’s a remarkable set of legislation in a Senate Democratic majority that can’t afford to lose one vote and must negotiate with a range of ideologies, from Sanders to Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate coal nation representing West Virginia, Burgat said.
“It’s a surprising amount they’ve done,” he said.
The Inflation Reduction Act — a stripped-down version of Biden’s original Build Back Better plan — now goes to the president’s office for a signature.
Biden’s original $1.7 trillion domestic package included a range of social investments, such as universal kindergarten, paid family leave and an expanded tax credit for children. Those social programs were cut short during a year of Senate negotiations, with moderate Democrats such as Arizona’s Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema focusing on the bill’s cost and impact on growing national debt.
Even as concessions in the negotiations took the bill off many social investments and cut climate investment by more than $100 billion, progressive Democrats still celebrated the Inflation Reduction Act as a legislative victory and the largest investment in climate in the country’s history.
“There would be no Inflation Reduction Act without Build Back Better, and there would be no Build Back Better without the work of the progressive caucus,” Representative Jamaal Bowman, DN.Y., said in a progressive caucus press conference early Friday.
The 10-year $739 billion package will raise taxes on certain businesses and reduce the deficit by about $100 billion over the next decade.
The bill would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices — long opposed by the pharmaceutical industry — and extend the Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years through 2025.
“We’ve been trying for decades to win, to get legislation that would allow the Secretary (Health and Human Services) to negotiate lower drug prices,” Pelosi said at a news conference. “Big Pharma has had a stranglehold on Congress and we haven’t been able to pull it off until now.”
It would also reinstate a tax on the oil industry to help pay for cleaning up dangerous Superfund sites. And it would add 87,000 IRS employees to handle a long backlog of audits, which McCarthy called the “most chilling” part of the law.
Candy Woodall is a congressional reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.