Democrats celebrated the much-delayed Senate passage of their health and climate spending agenda, expressing hope that the bill’s approval could improve their prospects in the crucial midterm elections in November. .
The bill, officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act, passed the Senate on Sunday in a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie in the room equally divided.
Loud applause erupted in the Senate after Harris announced the final count, and Democrats continued their victory lap after the vote ended, confident the bill will give Biden — and many Democrats — a record significant achievements to campaign for.
“I’m very confident that the Cut Inflation Act will go down as one of the defining feats of the 21st century,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a press conference after the adoption of the bill. “Doing small things with 50 votes is tough. To pass such a big bill – with only 50 votes, a hardline Republican minority, a caucus ranging from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin – wow.
The Democrats’ job is not quite done, however. The Senate-approved bill is now heading to the House, which must pass the legislation before it can go to Joe Biden’s desk. The House is due back from recess on Friday to consider the bill, and Democratic leaders have said they are confident it will pass.
“The House will come back and act quickly to send this bill to the President’s desk – proudly building a healthier, cleaner, fairer future for all Americans,” Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. .
Democrats hope passage of the bill will also help them persuade voters to keep control of Congress in November, when every House seat and 34 Senate seats are up for grabs. So far, the prospects for Democrats in the midterm elections look bleak as Republicans are heavily favored to regain control of the House of Representatives.
Asked Monday morning if he thinks the bill’s approval would benefit Democrats running in November, Biden said, “Do I expect that to help? Yes. It will help immediately.
Biden pointed to some of the bill’s health care provisions, including capping prescription fees for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 a year, to argue that the legislation would provide real-world help to millions of people. Americans. But that policy won’t go into effect until 2025, and Biden acknowledged that some of the bill’s most important provisions will take time to take effect.
This delayed implementation could prove detrimental to Democratic candidates trying to impress upon voters how the party has made the most of its control of the White House and Congress.
Despite its name, the bill is also unlikely to bring immediate relief to Americans struggling with the brunt of record inflation. According to a report by Moody’s Analytics, the bill will “modestly reduce inflation over the 10-year budget horizon.”
Republicans have accused Democrats of pushing through a partisan bill that failed to address voters’ top concerns, as polls show most Americans believe the economy is deteriorating.
“Democrats have proven time and time again that they just don’t care about the priorities of middle-class families,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said after the bill passed. “They spent 18 months proving it. They just spent hundreds of billions of dollars to prove it again.
The Republican talking points were echoed by a surprising voice on Sunday: Bernie Sanders. The progressive senator expressed concern that the bill would do little to help American workers, after unsuccessfully pushing amendments to the bill that would have expanded its health care provisions and financial assistance.
“It’s a very modest step forward,” Sanders told MSNBC. “Ultimately, I’m going to support the bill because given the climate change crisis, the environmental community says it’s a step forward. He doesn’t go as far as he should. It is a step forward. »
Democrats defended the bill’s environmental provisions, which mark the most significant US legislative effort yet to address the climate crisis. Experts estimate that the spending program’s climate policies will reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. This achievement will take the U.S. a striking distance of Biden’s goal of halving emissions by the end of the decade, which scientists say must be met to avert climate catastrophe.
To win the support of centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, the bill also includes controversial proposals to expand oil and gas development on federal lands, which have sparked an outcry among some climate activists. But the bill’s advocates say the climate benefits of the legislation far outweigh the costs.
As the spending package passes through the House, Pelosi has the daunting task of keeping his entire caucus in line to ensure the bill passes. Given the narrow majority of Democrats in the lower house, Pelosi can only afford to lose a few votes while pushing the bill through. It looks like Pelosi will get the votes she needs, after both moderates and progressives approve the package, so Biden could reach her bill-signing pen by the end of the week.