WASHINGTON – The House on Friday approved a far-reaching Democratic bill to fight climate change, expand health care coverage and raise taxes on corporations, voting along party lines to send the legislation to President Joe Biden for his signature .
The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act represents a major victory for Democrats ahead of November’s midterm elections, which covered nearly a year of back-and-forth negotiations. defying numerous near-death experiences for the bill.
The legislation, which passed the Senate on a 51-50 vote on Sunday, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie, now goes to Biden, who plans to sign it into law next week.
“We’ve had a lot of successes under President Biden: the bailout and the infrastructure bill and CHIPS and science. It’s quite a collection. But this is remarkable,” spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi told NBC News on Friday . “This is a source of joy.”
The House vote was 220-207, breaking evenly along party lines, as Democrats unified in support of the bill while Republicans unanimously voted against it.
Biden blasted Republicans for opposing the legislation in a video he tweeted after the vote.
“Today the American people have won and the special interests have finally lost,” Biden said. “The Democrats sided with the American people and the Republicans sided with special interests. This is the choice we face: do we protect those who are already powerful or do we have the courage to build a future where everyone has the same opportunity.”
In the lead-up to the vote, Pelosi highlighted four key provisions of the bill: enabling Medicare to negotiate drug prices, extending funding for the Affordable Care Act for three years, enacting a number of provisions on the energy and climate change and reduce the deficit.
The legislation would raise about $700 billion through corporate tax increases and savings on prescription drugs, and spend about $400 billion on clean energy and health care benefits.
It was a rare defeat for the pharmaceutical lobby on Capitol Hill. But other influential industries, such as private equity, defeated some of the provisions that would have adversely affected them.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted that “the Inflation Reduction Act will endure as one of the defining legislative feats of the 21st century.”
GOP reaches ‘half a trillion in spending’
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pushed all Republicans to vote against the bill, calling it “half a trillion in spending that would raise taxes during a recession.”
“When this bill comes to the House, I urge everyone to vote No,” he said in a recent statement.
The package falls far short of what most Democrats had wanted, with elements of the safety net eliminated by Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and a series of tax increases blocked by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D- Ariz. But privately, Pelosi’s message to colleagues was: Judge the bill by what it does, not what it doesn’t. In the end, the Democrats agreed.
Moderate Democrats said it would lower energy and health care costs, citing deficit savings to argue it would lower inflation.
“I think it’s absolutely phenomenal for Ohio,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who is running for Senate in a Republican-leaning state.
And progressives praised the largest package in U.S. history to combat climate change, which tackles the problem through a series of benefits for electric vehicles and clean energy products.
“In climate terms, this is the most consequential piece of legislation we will pass,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, chairwoman of the progressive caucus. “It’s also the first time we’ve at least put a knock on Big Pharma’s door is price gouging.”
At the same time, Jayapal said she is “disappointed” that the measure excludes a number of other Democratic priorities, including guaranteed paid family leave, child care funding, child tax credit payments, pre-K universal and immigration relief.
Republicans have rejected the new taxes in the bill, as well as additional funding IRS compliance, warning it would lead to further audits. Democrats argue the legislation provides a mechanism to target sophisticated tax evaders and strengthen refund processing and customer service. for ordinary Americans.
Overshadowed by Trump?
Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., turned on Democrats for focusing on climate change. “There is no climate crisis,” he said in an impassioned speech. “It’s a hoax.”
Some Republicans did see a bright side: The Democratic bill retains most of the 2017 Republican tax cuts, largely at the insistence of Sinema, who opposed any rate hike.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who authored the 2017 law, said it is “largely protected” in the new Democratic bill, though he said the 15 percent corporate tax floor would be harmful “Yes, a large part of the Republican tax cuts, the Trump tax cuts, are in place.”
The vote came at a time when much of the national focus was on the fallout from a recent FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
It was a source of frustration for some Democrats, who had preferred to spend this week bragging about the bill.
“I don’t think Trump will eclipse him. But Trump is like a planetary object that has his own gravity, and he certainly gets a lot of public attention,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Democrats said the bill was more important.
“The news and history books often don’t rhyme. And I think when people look back on this period, they’re going to write more, much more, about the biggest climate investment the country has ever made than anything else.” he said. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., chairman of the campaign arm of congressional Democrats, said lower inflation “can’t happen soon enough” and that Americans are more in tune with their lives .
“I think my voters care a lot more about what’s in their paycheck than what’s in Trump’s basement,” he said.