The US Congress on Friday passed a $430 billion bill to combat climate change and inflation. The package also seeks to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, raise taxes on some corporations and reduce the country’s economic deficit.
The House of Representatives voted 220-207 to pass the measure titled “Inflation Reduction Act” and send it to President Joe Biden. On Sunday (7), the Senate passed the legislation after 27 hours of session.
The law will allow Medicare (US government health insurance) to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors. The idea is to prevent about 13 million low- and middle-income Americans from being impacted by increases planned for next year.
The package, which earmarks $370 billion to combat climate change, is the largest ever approved to deal with global warming in the country’s history. The text is the final version of the Build Back Better law, proposed by Biden during the election campaign and whose focus is precisely the climate.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Aug. 3 and 4 found that nearly half of Americans support climate and drug pricing legislation. According to the study, 69% of Democrats and 34% of Republicans were in favor of the package.
“It’s a resounding victory for American families,” said Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House just before the vote, describing the legislation as “a robust cost-cutting package that meets the moment, ensuring that our families thrive and our planet survives.” ”.
Democrats hope the legislation will help them get to the polls in November, when voters decide the balance of power in Congress ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Republicans are favorites to win a majority in the House and could also take control of the Senate.
The Republican Party, however, opposes the legislation and says it will wipe out jobs by raising corporate tax bills, further fuel inflation with government spending and inhibit the development of new drugs.
“Democrats more than any other majority in history are addicted to spending other people’s money, regardless of what we as a country can afford,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a speech to the plenary.
Business groups had a mixed reaction to the legislation, which offers the prospect of higher taxes for some companies while protecting the fossil fuel industry.
Investors looking to invest money in clean energy products can expect at least a decade of federal subsidies through long-term tax credits for wind and solar and new credits for energy storage, biogas and hydrogen. Developers using equipment made in the USA or building in poorer areas will have additional support.
But the bill does not leave the US fossil fuel industry without resources. Some provisions allow the federal government to authorize new wind and solar energy developments on federal land only when it is also auctioning oil and natural gas drilling rights.
Fossil fuel protections have let progressives down, but they don’t stop Democratic support. “We do not support the expansion of fossil fuel leasing,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, who leads the Progressive Caucus of Congress. “But critically, independent analysis shows that its impact will be outweighed by the bill’s carbon pollution cuts.”