Democratic House passes historic climate and health care bill despite GOP opposition

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The Inflation Reduction Act passed on Friday on a party-line vote.

The House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, 220-207, overcoming opposition from every Republican in Congress. The legislation will pave the way for historic investment in curbing climate change and making health care more affordable for all Americans.

The budget reconciliation package includes an anticipated $369 billion in new energy and climate change infrastructure funding and $64 billion to fund a three-year extension of health insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act. It will also cap the out-of-pocket costs Medicare beneficiaries pay for prescription drugs and insulin.

The legislation will also reduce the federal budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

The funding laid out in the legislation will be derived from provisions allowing the federal government to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies, ending corporate tax loopholes, and forcing wealthy tax evaders to pay what they owe.

Rather than backing these very popular items, House Republicans chose to lie about them.

In an attempt to push his caucus to vote against the Inflation Reduction Act, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dishonestly denounced it as "a 700-page, half a trillion spending spree that would raise taxes during a recession, punish small businesses, hire 87,000 IRS bureaucrats to harass the middle class, and increase inflation."

The Internal Revenue Service and independent fact-checkers have also debunked the suggestion that hiring more IRS agents will lead to harassment or increased audits for working families or small businesses.

IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig said in an Aug. 4 letter to the Senate:

As we've been planning, our investment of these enforcement resources is designed around the Department of the Treasury's directive that audit rates will not rise relative to recent years for households making under $400,000. Other resources will be invested in employees and IT systems that will allow us to better serve all taxpayers, including small businesses and middle-income taxpayers.

Minority Whip Steve Scalise has falsely claimed the bill "raises taxes on people making less than $400K," although the legislation contains no such tax increase.

Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told the American Independent Foundation that those claims were totally false.

"They are trying to say that a minimum tax on the largest, most profitable multinationals will fall on working-class people and not corporate shareholders," Marr said on Aug. 4. "This just shows how weak their hand is, and if it's explained to people, they'll see right through it."

Some Republicans also dismissed the need for any climate protections at all, lying about the problem. Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale tweeted on Aug. 8, "The only climate that will be changing over the next year is going to be the economic climate, and it is going to get worse. I will be opposing the 'Inflation Acceleration Act' when it comes to the House floor for a vote."

"The climate just changes. It always has," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted on Aug. 7. "So-called 'clean energy' will not change anything, but will put America back into darkness, while our enemies drive ahead using fossil fuels and nuclear."

"Less than 1% of people named climate change as the most important issue facing America. Why then is it the 100% focus of the Democrats' agenda?" Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI) tweeted on Aug. 5.

Those claims aren't supported by evidence.

An October 2021 analysis published in the Environmental Research Letters showed that 99.9% of peer-reviewed scientific papers had found that climate change is real and caused by human factors.

The bill also won backing from environmental groups like Earthjustice — who dubbed it "a huge step forward in the fight to preserve a livable planet and is one we need to take while we have the chance" — and former Environmental Protection Agency administrators from both parties.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously praised the package as "a victory for America’s families and for our planet."

"This landmark legislation is a major step forward in Democrats’ fight to put People Over Politics: lowering kitchen table costs, reducing the cost of Americans' health care, creating millions of good-paying jobs, and addressing the climate crisis," she said in a Sunday press release.

The House's vote comes just five days after the Senate passed the bill on a party-line 51-50 vote. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote.

The legislation now goes to President Joe Biden, who has promised to sign it.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.