WASHINGTON ― After a year of painstaking negotiations that seemed for a time to be going nowhere, Senate Democrats on Sunday approved sweeping legislation aiming to reduce the nation’s output of greenhouse gases and make health care more affordable.
The vote was split 50-50 along party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaker after a marathon session of votes on amendments. The House is expected to take up the legislation and pass it on Friday.
The Inflation Reduction Act ― while substantially narrowed from prior versions ― would give President Joe Biden another major legislative victory ahead of November’s midterm elections. Its given name is a reflection of the shaky politics for his party at the moment, with rising costs of food, gasoline and energy at the top of voters’ minds.
The bill would make broad changes in energy, drug and tax policies. Prior to some last-minute changes caused by procedural issues, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would cut the budget deficit by a little more than $90 billion over 10 years.
Democrats also claim another $200 billion in deficit reduction from the revenues that the government would collect from tougher IRS enforcement.
The bill sets aside hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change, including through incentivizing clean energy technology. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said $260 billion would go toward clean energy tax credits that he called “transformational.”
The bill would also enact a change Democrats have sought for more than a decade ― to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies over the prices of prescription drugs. That kind of haggl...