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House Democrats passed on Friday a $739 billion climate change, tax hike, and healthcare bill, giving President Biden's domestic agenda a boost at a time of record high inflation and low presidential job approval numbers.
In a 220-to-207 vote, the House voted along party lines to approve the legislation. Every single Democrat supported the bill in the face of opposition from all Republicans except three who did not vote.
“Today is really a glorious day for us,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “We send to the president's desk a monumental bill that will be truly for the people.”
Republicans vehemently opposed the bill, arguing its provisions will worsen the U.S. economy and impose new burdens on American workers.
“Remember this day,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “When Democrats jammed through a 700-page bill that raises your taxes and doubles the size of the IRS.”
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The legislation, which has already been passed by the Senate, now heads to the president, who is expected to sign it shortly. Its passage represents a win for Biden, whose young White House tenure has been rocked by 40-year high inflation, recession and sinking poll numbers.
“This bill reflects much of what we wanted to see — not everything we wanted to see — let me be clear on that, but it is a very significant step forward,” said House Majority leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “It will reduce the deficit, lower costs and expand access to affordable health care, all while making the biggest investment in history to address the global climate crisis.”
Democrats began working on the bill shortly after Biden took office. Initially named Build Back Better, the legislation was proposed as an ambitious overhaul of the nation's economy and climate infrastructure.
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Boasting a price tag above $3.5 trillion, that iteration of the legislation disintegrated in the face of Democratic disunity within the 50-50 Senate.
Sen. Joe Manchin, in particular, refused to support the bill last year over concerns it would exacerbate inflation. The West Virginia Democrat's opposition was enough to derail the bill, since widespread GOP opposition meant the only way to pass the bill through the Senate was by a party-line process known as budget reconciliation.
Despite Manchin's opposition, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked to revive the package. Out of those private negotiations between Schumer and Manchin arose the Inflation Reduction Act.
The bill allows Medicare to negotiate the price of some life-saving prescription drugs starting in 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 lets Medicare negotiate with drug companies,” said Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass. “It caps the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $35 for people on Medicare … if you're on Medicare, you won't have to pay more than $2,000 a year for your prescriptions.”
The Manchin-Schumer bill also imposes a 15% minimum tax on corporations, a move that is slated to raise $313 billion. Democrats also say by investing in the Internal Revenue Service they can save an additional $124 billion.
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Overall, the bill proposes to raise $739 billion. Of that sum, $369 billion is slated to go to climate change subsidies to try to help reach Biden's goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030. A further $64 billion will go to expanding ObamaCare subsidies.
The rest of the new revenue, more than $300 billion, will go to paying down the deficit.
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