The United States Senate enacted a $430 billion bill on Sunday to combat climate change, decrease medication prices, and boost certain corporate taxes, a big victory for President Joe Biden that Democrats believe would help them retain control of Congress in the upcoming elections.

The Senate approved the Inflation Reduction Act by a 51-50 party line vote after a marathon 27-hour weekend session of debate and Republican efforts to derail the bill. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking ballot.

The motion advances the bill to the House of Representatives for a vote, which is expected on Friday, when lawmakers will return briefly after their summer break. They are anticipated to pass it, after which the law will be sent to the White House for Biden’s signature. Biden said in a statement that he was looking forward to signing the bill into law.

“The Senate is making history,” an ecstatic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer shouted, throwing his hands in the air as Democrats clapped and their staff members applauded the vote.

“To Americans who’ve lost faith that Congress can do big things, this bill is for you,” he said. “This bill is going to change America for decades.”

According to Schumer, the bill includes “the boldest clean energy package in American history” to combat climate change while lowering consumer costs for energy and some pharmaceuticals.

Republicans have attacked Democrats for the legislation’s $430 billion in additional expenditure and $740 billion in new income. 

Nonetheless, Democrats hope that its ratification will aid the party’s House and Senate candidates in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, at a time when Biden’s public support ratings are low due to high inflation.

The bill aims to reduce carbon emissions and convert customers to green energy, while also lowering prescription medicine costs for the elderly and tightening tax enforcement for corporations and the wealthy.

Democrats argue that because the legislation pays for itself and cuts the government deficit over time, it would help reduce inflation, an economic liability that has weighed on their ambitions of keeping legislative control in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.

Republicans, believing that the package will not address inflation, have slammed it as a job-killing, left-wing spending wish list that will weaken growth at a time when the economy is on the verge of a recession.

Democrats approved the bill through a parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation, which permits budget-related legislation to bypass the 100-seat chamber’s 60-vote threshold and pass with a simple majority.

On Saturday evening, following several hours of debate, the Senate launched a rapid-fire “vote-a-rama” on Democratic and Republican amendments that lasted until Sunday afternoon.

Democrats defeated almost 30 Republican amendments, points of order, and motions aimed at derailing the law. Any changes to the bill’s content brought about by an amendment may have shattered the Democrats’ 50-senator coalition required to keep the package on track.

Source: Reuters


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