House Democrats send sweeping health care, tax, and climate bill to Biden's desk

Washington DC - Democratic lawmakers in the US House passed a sweeping health care, tax, and climate change bill on Friday.

US House Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, sending it to President Joe Biden's desk for signing.
US House Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, sending it to President Joe Biden's desk for signing.  © OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

The vote was 220-207, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans opposing.

With the midterm elections quickly approaching, congressional Democrats have had a series of legislative victories in recent weeks - expanding NATO, securing health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, investing nearly $53 billion into the U.S. semiconductor industry, and passing bipartisan gun safety legislation.

That momentum has culminated in the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, an offshoot of the many versions of President Joe Biden’s failed Build Back Better Act.

The IRA, which the Senate advanced Sunday with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie, now heads to Biden’s desk for his signature.

With Biden poised to sign the bill in the coming days, House Democrats say their focus should now shift to touting its benefits to Americans.

Democrats, Progressives praise the IRA's passage

Due to ongoing drought conditions, Lake Mead's water levels have plummeted, and the IRA includes funding to address the crisis along the Colorado River.
Due to ongoing drought conditions, Lake Mead's water levels have plummeted, and the IRA includes funding to address the crisis along the Colorado River.  © Patrick T. FALLON / AFP

They readily admit they failed to adequately communicate to the American people how previous massive legislation that passed this Congress would improve their lives, including last year’s $1 trillion infrastructure package.

The bill will allow Medicare to negotiate some prescription drug prices, cap out-of-pocket drug expenses for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 per year and cap drugmakers’ price increases.

On climate, it will reduce emissions by about 40% by 2030, proponents say.

The measure will also impose new taxes on wealthy corporations and their stock buyback programs, and provide funding to beef up the Internal Revenue Service’s taxpayer services and enforcement.

It includes $4 billion to address the water crisis along the Colorado River.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi framed the legislation as a "kitchen table issue" at a news conference hours ahead of the vote: "If you are sitting at your kitchen table and [wondering] how you’re going to pay the bills," she said, "this bill’s for you."

House GOP leadership mocked the bill as the "Inflation, Recession, and IRS Army Act" in a message sent to all House Republicans’ offices.

In a lengthy floor speech, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy panned the legislation as a "misguided, tone-deaf bill" that will raise taxes and hand "out tax credits like candy with no accountability."

Progressives cheered the legislation while acknowledging they would have preferred it had gone further to fight climate change and bolster the nation’s social safety net.

Cover photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP