The House passes the Inflation Reduction Act, sending it to Biden for his signature
- The House passed the Manchin-approved Inflation Reduction Act on Friday.
- The vote was 220 to 207 with all House Republicans in opposition.
The House approved the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, clearing the final obstacle and sending it to President Joe Biden for final approval.
The vote was 220 to 207 with every House Republican in opposition to the climate, health, energy, and tax bill. Democrats hailed the measure as delivering on their campaign promises of financial relief with new programs to cut prescription drug costs, among other measures.
"Our Inflation Reduction Act is a robust cost-cutting package that meets the moment, ensuring that our families thrive and our planet survives," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the floor. After some initial fretting, the California Democrat didn't lose a single vote in her caucus — meaning every single Democrat in Congress voted for the bill.
Republicans were fiercely opposed to the measure. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dragged out the proceedings with a 50-minute speech that touched on immigration, taxes, and even the famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River.
"Democrats are addicted to spending other people's money regardless of what we as a country can afford," he said in a floor speech. "Now they are choosing to end the session by spending half a trillion dollars more of your money, raising taxes on the middle class and giving handouts to their liberal allies."
House Democrats quickly coalesced around the package shortly after the Senate passed it on Sunday with approval from Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. It capped a saga that stretched for over a year and a half that saw Democratic infighting over the size of their economic ambitions.
A small bloc of centrist lawmakers from blue states led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey initially pushed for reinstating a state and local tax break with large benefits for the rich. They had signaled they would back the bill, though their major priority was jettisoned. They argued the bill hadn't increased taxes, thus securing their votes.
Progressives also quickly lined up behind the legislation, though many sought a much larger bill that would have further expanded the safety net. Provisions to establish a national paid and medical leave program, set up affordable childcare and universal pre-K, and revive Biden's monthly child tax credit all fell by the wayside.
"From the beginning, progressives have fought tooth and nail to advance the full scope of the president's economic agenda," Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said at a news conference.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman said his initial reaction after months of back and forth among Democrats was one word: "Relief."
"I feel a sense of relief, a sense of pride, and a sense of excitement," Bowman of New York told Insider. "This is great for the American people, it's great for the planet, it's great for seniors, and it shows Democrats are here getting stuff done and this really, really incredible."
Other progressive lawmakers said they intended to push for more if the November midterms swung in favor of Democrats, who may lose both the House and Senate. "The next thing we need to do is hold the House, win a couple of seats in the Senate, so that we can become Manchin and Sinema-proof," Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York said.
Democrats were forced to shelve most of their plans to tax the richest Americans and large corporations to secure the support of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, chair of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters Democrats would consider raising individual and corporate tax rates if they kept the House.
The bill would empower Medicare to negotiate the price of some prescription drugs and establish $370 billion in clean-energy tax credits to incentivize the development of renewable power sources in addition to cutting the cost of appliances like heat pumps and electric induction stovetops. It would also extend financial assistance, so a larger set of Americans can purchase health coverage under the Affordable Care Act for three more years.
It amounts to the largest federal investment to combat the climate crisis in US history, putting the nation on course to curb emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
Neal credited Biden for continuing to push for his economic agenda even as fellow Democrats significantly trimmed back the scope of his ideas. The entire year-plus process to reach this moment reminded the party about how difficult even modest progress can be while calling Friday a "substantive day in the House of Representatives."
"You're reminded about how difficult legislating is even when you have a big majority — let alone a tiny one," Neal told reporters. "Joe Biden, I think, stayed with it, which most of us who have long legislative careers do. We think that taking the long view is important and you carve out victories as you can get them."
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the No. 5 House Democrat, repurposed Biden's famous hot-mic celebration of the Affordable Care Act to mark this moment.
"We are once getting big things done for everyday Americans," Jeffries said on the House floor, listing off the party's work thus far. "It's a big f-ing deal."
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