It happened. It finally happened. Though Republicans tried to stand in the way of Democrats’ efforts to pass a massive climate change bill, thanks to a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris, the legislation now heads to the House.
The bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, if put into law could reduce greenhouse gas emissions to approximately 40 percent of 2005 levels, according to The New York Times. The bill also contains provisions that would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for the first time and would limit out-of-pocket costs for Medicare recipients to $2,000 per year.
The Senate approved the legislation after a 15 hour vote-a-rama during which Republicans successfully passed an amendment removing a cap on out-of-pocket costs for insulin to $35 for people with private insurance. But an out-of-pocket cap for Medicare recipients was included in the Senate version of the bill. Most of the other amendments offered by Republicans were defeated.
To cover the cost of the programs in the bill, Democrats added a 1 percent excise tax that could bring in $73 billion, according to Politico. The legislation is predicted to lower the federal deficit by up to $300 billion across 10 years.
According to the Times, the House plans to reconvene Friday to send the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk. The bill’s passage through the Senate — the largest hurdle — is a major victory for Biden’s agenda, especially in light of the upcoming midterm elections. The legislation has been in the works for more than a year. Originally packaged as Build Back Better, it was rebranded the Inflation Reduction Act while Democrats were negotiating to earn the support of two centrist members of the party, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Nev.). (Though Manchin made sure the bill included some major exceptions for his home state.)
While getting Manchin and Sinema’s endorsement meant cutting parts of the original legislation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck emphasized the progress it represents. “The caucus overwhelmingly is focused on what’s in this bill — not what’s not in the bill, even though every one of us would want more — because what’s in the bill is so incredible,” Schumer told the Times in an interview. “You had to thread the needle.”