Biden signs Democrats’ sweeping bill to fight climate change and cut health care costs

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President Biden signed on Tuesday signed into law the Curbing Inflation Act, an ambitious measure that seeks to curb inflation, lower prescription drug prices, tackle climate change, reduce the deficit and impose a minimum tax on the profits of the biggest companies.

During a bill-signing ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House, Biden hailed the legislation as one of the most significant measures in the country’s history.

“Let me say up front: With this law, the American people won and special interests lost,” Biden said.

His administration had begun amid “dark times in America,” Biden added, citing the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment and threats to democracy.

“And yet, we didn’t falter, we didn’t flinch, and we didn’t back down,” Biden said. “Instead, we produce results for the American people. We did not demolish. We built. We haven’t looked back. We’re waiting impatiently. And today – today offers further proof that America’s soul is vibrant, America’s future is bright, and America’s promise is real.

The House passed the bill on Friday in a vote of 220 to 207, days after the Senate narrowly passed it on a party vote, with Vice President Harris serving as a tiebreaker. The bill’s passage marked one of the most successful legislative efforts by Democrats in Congress this session, ahead of a contentious midterm election – and also one that seemed increasingly unlikely for about a year and a half. .

The House on August 12 passed a bill aimed at cutting health care costs, tackling climate change, raising taxes on some big businesses and reducing the deficit. (Video: The Washington Post)

Last year, a larger $2 trillion spending package known as the Build Back Better Act stalled in Congress after encountering opposition from moderate Democratic senators. After weeks of negotiations with the White House, Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) said in December he could not go ahead with the bill.

But last month, Manchin announced he had reached a surprise deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) on what would become the Cut Inflation Act. Although smaller than the Build Back Better plan, the new legislation aimed to achieve many of the same goals, including spending about $370 billion on climate change and clean energy generation.

On Tuesday, Biden said signing the bill was something he had been looking forward to doing for 18 months. At one point he glanced at Manchin and joked, “Joe, I never had any doubts,” with some laughter. After Biden signed his signature — and Schumer proclaimed: ‘It’s the law now!’ — the president handed the pen he was using to Manchin and shook his hand.

On Tuesday, Schumer personally thanked Manchin “for working hard to achieve this,” and credited Biden and the Democratic caucus for their perseverance. The president, Schumer added, knew precisely when to step in and when to let negotiations proceed.

“I am confident that this bill will go down as one of the greatest legislative feats in decades: it will cut costs, create millions of well-paying jobs and be the boldest climate bill ever. time,” Schumer said. “Now, in normal times, pushing these bills forward would be a huge achievement, but to do so now, with only 50 Democratic votes in the Senate, over a hard-line Republican minority, is nothing short of incredible.”

During a dig at former President Donald Trump, Schumer also thanked Biden for restoring “dignity, respect and agency to the Oval Office.”

“After four years of a president who enjoyed creating chaos, Americans are seeing what it’s like to have a president and a Congress focused on getting results that make their lives better,” Schumer said.

According to the White House, Biden will hold a Cabinet meeting in the coming weeks focused on implementing the Cut Inflation Act, as well as trips across the country to promote how the new law should. help Americans. The White House is also planning an event on September 6 to celebrate the signing of the bill.

How the Cut Inflation Act Could Affect You — and Change the United States

The Cut Inflation Act would spend about $370 billion on fighting climate change and boosting energy production in the United States, by incentivizing private companies to produce more renewable energy and households to transform their use and consumption of energy. The bill would also allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and extend health insurance subsidies to millions of Americans.

To pay for the expenses, the bill would generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue through new tax provisions, the largest of which will fall on the nation’s big corporations. It would also give the badly underfunded Internal Revenue Service its biggest budget increase in its history — a provision of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) critical like the one that would translate to “an army of tax officials to spy on your bank accounts”.

As White House officials have repeatedly said over the past week, Biden again stressed on Tuesday that no one earning less than $400,000 a year would pay “a penny more” in taxes. He also made implied speech for Democrats in the November midterm elections, noting that no Republicans voted for the Cut Inflation Act.

“Let’s be clear: In this historic moment, Democrats have sided with the American people and every Republican in Congress has sided with special interests,” Biden said. “Every Republican in Congress has voted against lowering prescription drug prices, against lowering health care costs, against the fair tax system. Every Republican, every one, voted against tackling the climate crisis, against lowering our energy costs, against creating well-paying jobs.

“My fellow Americans, this is the choice we face,” he added. “We can protect those who are already powerful or show the courage to build a future where everyone has an equal chance.”

At a bill-writing ceremony for the Cut Inflation Act on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called it a “glorious day” and said noted that the bill’s passage followed Biden signing several other key pieces of legislation into law, including one to expand assistance for veterans exposed to toxic combustion fireplaces during their military service. She also criticized Republicans for uniting against the bill and said Democrats would continue to fight for provisions that were dropped as a compromise, such as Medicare expansion and free universal preschool. .

“This legislation is historic, it’s transformative and it’s really cause for celebration,” Pelosi said.

Jeff Stein, Maxine Joselow, Rachel Roubein and John Wagner contributed to this report.

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