The United States Senate has passed a sweeping $430 billion bill aimed at combating climate change, lowering drug prices and raising some corporate taxes, marking a big victory for President Joe Biden because Democrats hope it will help their chances of keeping control of Congress in this year’s election.
Following a marathon two-day session of debate over the weekend and Republican efforts to derail the package, the Senate passed legislation known as the “Inflation Reduction Act” by a party-line vote of 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
The action sends the measure to the House of Representatives for an expected vote on Friday that could send it, in turn, to the White House for Biden’s signing into law.
“Now is the time to move forward with a big, bold package for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at the start of debate Saturday night.
He said the legislation contains “the most audacious clean energy package in the history of the United States” to combat climate change, while reducing the costs of energy consumption and some medicines.
Democrats have come under fire from Republicans over the legislation’s $430 billion in new spending and about $740 billion in new revenue.
Democrats, however, hope its passage before the August recess will help their House and Senate candidates in the Nov. 8 midterms, at a time when Biden is suffering from anemic public approval ratings amid a of high inflation.
The legislation aims to reduce carbon emissions and move consumers toward green energy, while lowering prescription drug costs for seniors and tightening tax enforcement for corporations and the wealthy.
Because the measure pays for itself and reduces the federal deficit over time, Democrats say it will help reduce inflation, an economic liability that has also hurt their hopes of retaining legislative control in the run-up to the presidential election. 2024.
Republicans, arguing the bill won’t address inflation, decry the measure as a leftist spending wish list that kills jobs and could undermine growth when the economy is in danger of slipping into recession.
Democrats passed the bill using a congressional maneuver called “reconciliation,” which allows budget-related legislation to bypass the 100-seat house’s 60-vote threshold for most bills and pass by a majority. simple.
After several hours of debate, the Senate began a quick “branch vote” on the Democratic and Republican amendments on Saturday night that lasted into Sunday afternoon.
Democrats rejected more than two dozen Republican amendments, points of order and motions, all intended to scuttle the legislation. Any change in the content of the bill wrought by an amendment could have unraveled the coalition of 50 Democratic senators needed to keep the legislation on track.
In a harbinger of the upcoming fall election campaign, Republicans used their defeated amendments to attack vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election in November.
“Democrats are voting again to allow chaos on the southern border to continue,” said a statement from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, naming Democratic Senators Mark Kelly of Arizona, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. All four face close races for re-election.
That followed the defeat of a Republican proposal to codify into law a policy by former President Donald Trump’s administration stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic that effectively shut down the country’s asylum system for immigrants.
The Biden administration has fought in court to replace the policy known as “Title 42” with what it described as a more humane and orderly system for migrants crossing the border into Mexico.