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WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden signed the Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill into law on Tuesday, delivering what he called the “final piece” to his pared-down national agenda, as he aims to strengthen his party’s position with voters less than three months before the midterm elections.
The legislation includes the largest federal investment in history to fight climate change — some $375 billion over the decade — and would cap prescription drug costs at $2,000 a year for Medicare beneficiaries. It would also help about 13 million Americans pay for health insurance by extending subsidies given during the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure is funded by new taxes on large corporations and strengthened IRS enforcement of wealthy individuals and entities, with additional funds earmarked to reduce the federal deficit.
At a triumphant signing event at the White House, Biden pointed to the law as proof that democracy — no matter how long or messy the process — can still serve American voters as he tests out the road a line he will likely repeat later this fall. before the midterms: “The American people won and special interests lost.
“At this historic moment, Democrats have sided with the American people, and every Republican in Congress has sided with the special interests of this vote,” Biden said, repeatedly capturing the contrast between his party and the GOP. “Each.”
The House approved the measure on Friday on a 220-207 party line vote. It passed the Senate days earlier, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie in that chamber.
“In normal times, getting these bills done would be a huge achievement,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said during the White House ceremony. “But to do it now, with only 50 Democratic votes in the Senate, over an uncompromising Republican minority, is just unbelievable.”
Biden signed the bill in a small ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House, sandwiched between returning from a six-day beach vacation in South Carolina and leaving for his home. in Wilmington, Delaware. He plans to hold a bigger “celebration” for the legislation on Sept. 6 once lawmakers return to Washington.
The signing caps a legislative productivity push for Biden and Congress, which in three months has approved legislation on veterans benefits, the semiconductor industry and gun controls for young buyers. The president and lawmakers also reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and overwhelmingly supported Swedish and Finnish NATO membership.
With Biden’s approval rating trailing, Democrats will hope the string of successes will boost their chances of maintaining control in Washington midterm in November. The 79-year-old president is aiming to restore his own standing with voters as he considers a re-election bid.
The White House announced on Monday that it will deploy Biden and members of his cabinet on a “Building a Better America” tour to promote recent victories. One of Biden’s trips will be to Ohio, where he will attend the grand opening of a semiconductor factory that will benefit from recent legislation to boost production of such computer chips. He will also stop in Pennsylvania to promote his administration’s plan for safer communities, a visit that was scheduled for the same day he tested positive for COVID-19 last month.
Biden also plans to hold a Cabinet meeting to discuss how to implement the new climate and health care law.
Republicans say the legislation’s new business taxes will raise prices, worsening the nation’s fight with its highest inflation since 1981. Although Democrats called the measure a cut inflation act, nonpartisan analysts say it will have a barely perceptible impact on prices.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R.S.D., continued those same criticisms on Tuesday, though he acknowledged there would be “benefits” from extensions to tax credits for construction projects. renewable energy such as solar and wind power.
“I think it’s too much spending, too much tax and, in my opinion, the wrong priorities, and an overworked, overstaffed IRS that’s going to go after a lot of taxpayers not just high income, but a lot of middle-income taxpayers. -income taxpayers,” Thune said, speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Sioux Falls. The administration has challenged anyone but high earners to face increased tax scrutiny, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen ordering the tax agency to focus only on businesses and people earning more than 400 000 dollars per year for new audits.
The measure is a slimmed down version of the more ambitious plan to boost environmental and social programs that Biden and his party unveiled early last year.
Biden’s original 10-year, $3.5 trillion proposal also included free preschool, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and eased immigration restrictions. It crashed after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Virginia, said it was too costly, using the influence of every Democrat in an evenly divided Senate.
At the signing event, Biden addressed Manchin, who struck the critical deal with Schumer on the package last month, saying, “Joe, I never had any doubts” as the crowd laughed. Later, outside the White House, Manchin said he always had a “friendly relationship” with Biden and it was “never personal” between the two, although Manchin broke off negotiations. with the White House last year.
“He’s a little more vintage than me, but not a lot,” Manchin said of Biden.
Although the law is considerably smaller than their original ambitions, Biden and Democrats are hailing the legislation as a once-in-a-generation investment to address the long-term effects of climate change, as well as drought in western Canada. country.
The bill will direct spending, tax credits and loans to boost technology like solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emissions reduction equipment for coal-fired power plants and gas, and air pollution controls for farms, ports and low-income communities.
An additional $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums over the next three years for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Medicare would gain the power to negotiate its costs for pharmaceuticals, initially in 2026 for just 10 drugs. Prescription fees for Medicare beneficiaries would be capped at $2,000 a year starting in 2025, and starting next year they would pay no more than $35 a month for insulin, the expensive diabetes drug. diabetes.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, DS.C., a powerful political ally of Biden, noted during the White House ceremony that his late wife, Emily, who battled diabetes for three decades, would be “beyond joy” if she was alive today because of the insulin cap.
“Many seem surprised at your successes,” Clyburn told Biden. “I am not. I know you.”