House Democrats Pass Historic Climate, Healthcare Bill over Republican Opposition

The House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, clearing the way for President Biden to sign the landmark climate and healthcare bill into law. The legislation passed along party lines, as Democrats overcame unified GOP opposition.

Republicans banded together to vote by proxy in order to deny a physical quorum. The bill still passed, but Republicans are hoping the move will open up an avenue for a legal challenge of the bill’s passage, Axios reported ahead of the vote. Proxy votes are part of a quorum needed to pass legislation, as a House resolution passed by the current Congress made clear, but the matter hasn’t been ruled on by a court. According to the report, Republicans would support a lawsuit from a company looking to challenge the bill over its tax implication.

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While far from Democrats’ initial proposal, the act pledges a substantial cutback in greenhouse gas emissions, hoping to realize those cuts via massive tax credits — $400 billion over 10 years — for green energy development and deployment. The Biden administration has set a goal of cutting U.S. emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2030, and this bill aims go a long way toward that goal, with analysts saying it would produce a 40 percent reduction from 2005 levels by decade’s end.

On the healthcare side, it caps out-of-pocket expenses prescription drug for those on Medicare to $2,000 annually, allows Medicare to negotiate prices with prescription drug manufactures, and funds the Affordable Care Act for three years. Among other provisions, it also allocates $80 billion to the IRS in part to boost enforcement, despite the objections of Republicans who made claims that were either misleading or false.

Revenue from corporate tax increases and prescription drug savings would amount to roughly $700 billion, while the government would spend about $400 billion on climate-friendly energy and on healthcare.

The act passed the Senate last Sunday, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote in a divided chamber, but not before Republicans stripped a provision limiting out-of-pocket insulin costs for buyers with private insurance. In order to reach the 50-vote threshold, Democratic leaders made concessions to moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) regarding the Wall Street-friendly carried interest tax loophole and a gas pipeline in West Virginia, respectively.

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