Aug 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Congress sends $740 billion tax, health and climate bill to Biden's desk

Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House of Representatives on Friday passed Democrats' $740 billion tax, health care and climate bill, which now goes to President Biden's desk for his signature.

Why it matters: The bill's passage notches a big legislative victory for Democrats with the midterms approaching and delivers on several long-standing liberal policy goals.

Driving the news: The bill passed 220-207 with all Republicans voting against it.

Details: By far, the largest spending provision in the bill is nearly $370 billion to combat climate change, including tax credits and funding for renewable energy, electric vehicles and energy-efficient home improvements, as well as incentives for companies to cut methane emissions. It also:

  • Extends enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies.
  • Allows Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs and requires drug companies to pay rebates for raising prices faster than inflation.
  • Imposes a 15% minimum tax on corporations making $1 billion or more in annual profits and a 1% fee on stock buybacks.
  • Invests $80 billion in the Internal Revenue Service to crack down on tax evasion by the wealthy and corporations.

What they're saying: "This landmark [legislation] that we send to the president's desk is a resounding victory for America's families starting at their kitchen table," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a floor speech.

Swing-seat Democrats told Axios they think the bill will boost them on the campaign trail.

  • "The prescription drug portions, in particular, are really going to be impactful," said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), adding she got almost 1,000 calls in the last few days urging her to vote yes for those provisions, "which is high for us."
  • But, Slotkin added, the bill won't just sell itself: "We need to explain it because we live in a world where, if you don't message, someone else will do it on your behalf."
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) told Axios: “Results get results. … This is going to be a shot in the arm to Democrats everywhere.”

The other side: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in a floor speech, called the legislation "the largest tone-deaf bill I've ever seen in this chamber in 232 years."

  • "They are choosing to spend 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."

The backdrop: The bill was rolled out last month as a compromise between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Yes, but: The bill falls far short of what most Democrats had hoped for when Biden took office last January.

  • Democrats spent months last year pushing for a $3.5 trillion package that included paid family and medical leave, universal pre-K, tuition free community college, and an extension of the child tax credit.
  • That proposal was rejected by Manchin in December.
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