President Biden on Tuesday will sign into law the Inflation Reduction Act, an ambitious measure that aims to tamp down on inflation, lower prescription drug prices, tackle climate change, reduce the deficit and impose a minimum tax on profits of the largest corporations.
Biden to sign sweeping bill to tackle climate change, lower health-care costs
The House passed the bill Friday in a 220-207 vote, days after the Senate narrowly passed it on a party-line vote, with Vice President Harris serving as the tiebreaker. The bill’s passage marked one of the most successful legislative efforts by congressional Democrats this session, ahead of contentious midterm elections — and also one that seemed increasingly unlikely for about a year and a half.
Last year, a larger $2 trillion spending package known as the Build Back Better Act stalled in Congress after hitting opposition from moderate Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), who after weeks of negotiations with the White House said in December that he could not move forward with the bill.
But last month, Manchin announced that he had reached a surprise deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on what would become known as the Inflation Reduction Act. Though smaller than the Build Back Better plan, the new legislation still aimed to achieve many of the same goals, including spending about $433 billion on climate change and clean-energy production.
Biden is expected to deliver remarks during the signing, which will be held in the State Dining Room of the White House.
According to the White House, Biden will in coming weeks host a Cabinet meeting focused on implementing the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as travel across the country to promote the different ways the new law is expected to help Americans. The White House is also planning to host an event on Sept. 6 to celebrate the bill’s enactment.
The Inflation Reduction Act secures the largest-ever investment to tackle climate change, with roughly $370 billion dedicated to curbing harmful emissions and promoting green technology. The bill also moves to cap and lower seniors’ drug costs while sparing about 13 million low- and middle-income Americans from increases in their insurance premiums that otherwise would occur next year.
To pay for the spending, Democrats rely on revisions to tax laws, including a new minimum tax on some billion-dollar corporations that now pay nothing to the U.S. government. That change — along with another new tax on stock buybacks and fresh funding for the Internal Revenue Service to pursue tax cheats — is expected to cover the costs of the bill. Democrats say it also can reduce the federal deficit by about $300 billion, but they have yet to provide a final fiscal analysis.
House Republicans, meanwhile, have attacked the measure as a tax increase on families, even though it does not raise individuals’ rates. And in speeches, they insisted it would allow the government to hire tens of thousands of new IRS agents to “snoop around in your bank account, your Venmo, your small business, and then the government will shake you down for every last cent,” as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said.
At a bill enrollment ceremony for the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called it “a glorious day” and noted the bill’s passage was coming on the heels of Biden signing several other key pieces of legislation into law, including one aimed at expanding aid to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service. She also criticized Republicans for uniting in opposition to the bill — and said Democrats would continue to fight for provisions that had been dropped as a compromise, such as Medicare expansion and free universal prekindergarten.
“This bill honors the Democrats’ promise to American families,” Pelosi said then, referring to the Inflation Reduction Act. “After we pass it and the president signs it into law, we will continue to fight for more of the family features of the bill that are not included in this legislation. This legislation is historic, it’s transformative, and it is really a cause for celebration.”
John Wagner contributed to this report.