Sweeping climate, health care and tax bill signed into law
WASHINGTON (CN) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a massive climate, health and tax bill at the White House, the culmination of over a year of back and forth with congressional Democrats.
From a podium in the state dining room alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Biden called the Inflation Reduction Act "one of the most significant laws in our history.”
“What I'm about to sign is not just about today, it's about tomorrow,” Biden said. “It's about delivering progress and prosperity to American families. It's about showing the American people that democracy still works in America … not just for the privileged few, but for all of us.”
The bill revives policy goals that only weeks ago were thought unachievable. It contains the biggest federal investment in climate change in history, while also cutting prescription drug and health care costs, revamping the tax code, and cutting the deficit.
“Let me say from the start, with this law, the American people won and the special interests lost," he said. "American people won and the special interest lost.”
Over the next 10 years, the legislation makes $375 billion in federal investments to fight climate change. This includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1 gigaton by 2030 and creating millions of clean energy jobs in America. The law will also help Americans lower their energy costs by providing tax credits for clean energy and electric vehicles and solar panels.
Democrats say the bill will allow the U.S. to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.
The legislation hits on Biden and Democrats' health care goals by capping prescription drug costs at $2,000 out-of-pocket annually for Medicare recipients and extending subsidies to help an estimated 13 million Americans pay for insurance. Starting next year, the bill will allow Medicare beneficiaries to pay no more than $35 per month for insulin.
The health care and environmental policies in the bill are paid for by revenue generated by new taxes for large companies and stepped-up IRS enforcement on wealthy individuals and companies. The White House stressed that no family making less than $400,000 will see an increase in taxes.
Biden originally proposed a $3.5 trillion bill that included free prekindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits, and eased immigration restrictions. An earlier version failed to make it through the 50-50 Senate, however, with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia casting a critical vote against it.
The president's legislative priorities found a second wind, however, after Manchin came together with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to create the last-minute deal.
“Joe, I never had a doubt,” Biden said during his remarks Tuesday, referring to Manchin who sat in the front row at the signing.
Schumer predicted the bill would be remembered as a great legislative win among other achievements including legislation on veterans’ benefits, the semiconductor industry and guns.
“Now, in normal times getting these bills done would be a huge achievement, but to do it now, with only 50 Democratic votes in the Senate, over an intransigent Republican minority is nothing short of amazing,” Schumer said at the signing Tuesday. “It shows how dedicated and persistent our caucus is. I want to give all 50 of my colleagues — a wonderful, diverse and dedicated group of 50 — huge credit for getting this bill over the finish line.”
Biden made sure to note that Democratic lawmakers passed the sweeping legislation without any of their Republican colleagues. It garnered 50 votes in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. Days later it was approved by a party-line 220-207 vote in the House.
“Let's be clear: In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people, and every single Republican in the Congress side with a special interest in this vote — every single one,” Biden said.
The White House remarks seemed to serve as a launching point for Democrats' campaign messaging for the midterms.
“Every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill,” Biden said. “Every single Republican in Congress voted against lowering prescription drug prices, against lowering health care costs, against the fair tax system. Every single Republican, every single one, voted against tackling the climate crisis, against lowering our energy costs, against creating good-paying jobs. Our fellow Americans, that's the choice we face.”
Biden’s White House bill signing is just the first stop in the president’s victory lap to celebrate the legislative achievement. On Monday, the White House announced Biden would hold a cabinet meeting focused on implementing the bill in the coming weeks and then will travel across the country to pitch the achievements to the American people. Biden will also host a White House event in September.