Democrats pass major health, climate, tax bill along party lines; Biden signs next week

On Friday, all House Democrats voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) on the Uniform Republican Opposition, sending the multi-billion dollar climate, health care and tax bill to President Joe Biden’s office for signing into law.

The package, which also passed the Senate on Sunday along party lines, was approved around 6 p.m. by a vote of 220-207.

Democrats in the chamber were seen celebrating what they are sure to champion as a legislative achievement – which aims to make prescription drugs and health insurance cheaper while raising taxes on the wealthy, cutting the deficit, by investing in clean energy and curbing climate change – ahead of a controversial mid-term cycle, when they will be in the face of the president’s low approval ratings and other headwinds.

Biden quickly tweeted his reaction to the House passage: “Today the American people won. Special interests lost.”

“With the passage of the Cut Inflation Act in the House, families will see lower prescription drug prices, health care costs and energy costs,” he wrote, and said he plans to sign the bill into law next week.

The total party unity in both chambers is a major feat for the Democratic leadership, which has struggled for months to unite the caucus around a cohesive strategy. The party has been trying since Biden took office in January 2021 to pass a social spending bill, which eventually became the IRA, a much slimmer version. of the multi-trillion dollar plan Biden supported first.

The over $700 billion package includes the country’s largest-ever investment in new climate initiatives; allows Medicare to negotiate the price of certain drugs; and expands Affordable Care Act grants while reducing the federal deficit with a 15% minimum corporate tax and an excise tax on corporate stock buyouts.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill, August 12, 2022, in Washington, DC

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill, August 12, 2022, in Washington, DC

Mariam Zuhaib/AP

Despite the name of the legislation, Republicans pointed out, it will have only a negligible effect on short-term inflation, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found.

But the CBO said it would cut federal budget deficits by $102 billion over 10 years.

At a press conference ahead of the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about the bill’s ability to rein in high — but slightly falling — inflation over the next few months.

“Well, you have to start,” Pelosi said, noting that the inflation is caused by many factors, like the COVID-19 supply chain crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday called the bill “misguided” and “deaf.” He spoke in the House for around 50 minutes before the vote, mainly lambasting the widespread use of proxy voting to pass the bill and the IRA’s tougher tax enforcement measures, which according to supporters, will actually target the wealthy getting rid of their tax bills. .

“Democrats more than any other majority in history are addicted to spending other people’s money,” McCarthy said.

More than half of the House voted by proxy, which extended the passage of the bill by designating a certain member to vote in person on behalf of absent lawmakers.

The IRA passed the Senate on Sunday without a single Republican supporter. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the deciding vote after a 4-hour ‘vote-a-rama’ that saw a slew of amendments proposed by both parties – and saw Senate Democrats forced to make adjustments at the last minute to the tax provisions of the bill.

PHOTO: The exterior of the White House from the North Lawn, August 7, 2022, in Washington, DC

The exterior of the White House from the North Lawn, August 7, 2022, in Washington, DC

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the IRA “one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation that has passed the Senate and Congress in decades.”

“While much of DC was focused on the Senate vote earlier this week, the White House was just as focused on the House at the same time,” a White House official told ABC News, noting that the administration had been in contact with the leadership of the Chamber. during the week.

Staff were also speaking with individual members of the legislation, answering any questions and sending documents daily, the official said.

​​

Since his summer vacation on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, Biden has had two video conferences with his staff who worked on the IRA, according to the White House.

“The President has been calling House members throughout the week; we had members at the CHIP signing and the signing of the PACT Act, which was another opportunity for POTUS to reach out to IRA members,” the official said. “White House staff also worked hard to rebut Republican attacks on the bill and go on the offensive because of what Republicans opposed.

ABC News’ Justin Gomez, Molly Nagle and Trish Turner contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment