President Joe Biden hailed a breakthrough Wednesday as he pushed much of his seemingly doomed health and climate crisis agenda through Congress after Senate Democrats healed divisions.
“This is the action the American people have been waiting for. This will address the problems of today — high healthcare costs and headline inflation — as well as investing in our energy security for the future,” Biden said in a statement.
The bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law, but the multi-billion dollar package eventually garnered the crucial support of conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. His previous opposition had essentially quashed Biden’s ambitious plans, because in the 50-50 Senate, where Republicans rarely support Biden on anything, Democrats cannot afford to lose a single vote.
For Biden, whose approval ratings are below 40 percent, the truce with Manchin is a major political boost ahead of the November midterm elections, when his Democratic Party is expected to lose control of Congress to Republicans.
If the law passes, some $369 billion will go to clean energy and climate initiatives and $64 billion to federally funded health care, including a popular measure designed to bring down ruinously high prescription drug prices.
It would be paid for by raising $739 billion, with a large chunk coming from a 15 percent corporate tax rate. An additional $300 billion raised under the plan would be used to pay down the federal deficit.
Biden, who has had to abandon even broader social and environmental spending ideas, received the good news of a grace period on that bill on the same day he ended his five-day isolation after being infected with Covid-19.
It also comes as Congress moves closer to passing another of its priorities — a $52 billion fund to boost domestic production of semiconductors, the electronic brains in modern devices ranging from washing machines to military weapons.
In his statement, Biden said prescription drug prices would go down and health care for Americans using the subsidized Affordable Care Act policy would also get cheaper by $800 a year.
Financing clean energy will “create thousands of new jobs and help lower energy bills in the future,” he said.
“We will pay for all of this by requiring big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, with no tax increases at all for families earning less than $400,000 a year.”
Biden thanked Manchin, an often unpredictable partner in the Senate, for his “extraordinary efforts.”
“If passed, this legislation will be historic and I urge the Senate to move this legislation forward as soon as possible and the House to follow suit as well.”
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