Senate Passes Groundbreaking Health, Tax and Climate Bill That Proves What Congress Is Capable Of

·3 min read
Senate Passes Groundbreaking Health, Tax and Climate Bill That Proves What Congress Is Capable Of

Despite unanimous Republican opposition, the U.S. Senate passed a landmark bill on Sunday that will impact healthcare, climate change and inflation in this country for years to come.

Vice President Kamala Harris cast the definitive vote in the Inflation Reduction Act, which was tied 50 to 50 between Democrats and Republicans, making way for the bill to head to Congress later this week where it is expected to pass.

The 755-page bill provides $430 billion to fight climate change and enhance health care coverage, according to NBC News, while earmarking hundreds of billions of dollars to reduce the deficit.

It's the biggest climate bill passed in history, and a huge win for President Joe Biden, who said in a statement Sunday that Senate Democrats "sided with American families over special interests."

"I ran for President promising to make government work for working families again, and that is what this bill does — period," the president said.

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The bill looked to be at a stalemate just weeks ago, and is actually far smaller than Democrats hoped, The New York Times reported.

"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," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the newspaper. "You had to thread the needle."

chuck schumer
chuck schumer

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Under the proposed new legislation, the federal health secretary could advocate for Medicare in negotiating prices of some high-cost medicine, according to NPR, which could impact 10 drugs covered by Medicare in 2026, and increase to 20 by 2029.

In addition, seniors' out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs will be capped at $2,000 per year, and about 13 million Americans under the Affordable Care Act stand to see health care premiums reduced by $800, Biden said in the statement.

Part of the bill that would have capped the price of insulin to $35 per month was blocked by Republicans, per NPR.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock (13074650i) President Joe Biden leaving the White House to go to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. President Joe Biden Leaving the White House to Rehoboth Beach - 07 Aug 2022
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock (13074650i) President Joe Biden leaving the White House to go to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. President Joe Biden Leaving the White House to Rehoboth Beach - 07 Aug 2022

Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

On the climate change front, the legislation would give tax incentives for consumers to buy electric vehicles and offer incentives to install wind or solar power energy sources in their homes. And the bill includes $60 billion for disadvantaged areas affected by climate change, as well as offers "climate resiliency funding" for native Indian and Hawaiian citizens, The Times reported.

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Initially known as the Build Back Better bill, Democrats changed its name in hopes of tackling one of the most top-of-mind issues for voters—inflation.

The bill's aim is to lower the federal deficit by $300 billion in the next decade, but it is unknown how Americans will see lower costs over that period, The Times reported.

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A minimum corporate tax would be established to pay for the bill "so that our richest corporations start to pay their fair share," Biden said, adding, "It does not raise taxes on those making under $400,000 a year—not one cent."