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US lawmakers want to pass big climate and health bill with big wins for Biden – AFR

U.S. lawmakers were expected to pass President Joe Biden’s sweeping climate, tax and health plan on Friday — a big win for the veteran Democrat, which includes America’s largest-ever investment in the fight against global warming.

The expected passage in the House of Representatives comes after the Senate passed the bill by a razor-thin majority, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the casting vote and sending the bill to Biden for signature.

That would give Biden a clear victory on one of his key policy priorities ahead of the crucial midterm elections in November, with his Democratic Party’s control of Congress at stake.

It would also help restore semblance of US leadership in the fight to cut carbon emissions.

“It’s really hard to overstate the importance of this bill,” Dan Lashof, the director of the World Resources Institute, said earlier this week.

“By creating a very strong incentive to invest in wind and solar, it will essentially dry up the coal power market over the next decade.”

The plan includes a $370 billion investment that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 – the largest commitment by the world’s largest economy and one of its worst polluters to combating climate change.

The so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” would also provide $64 billion for health initiatives and cut the cost of some drugs that can be ten times more expensive in the United States than in some other rich countries.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the legislation “historic” ahead of Friday’s session.

After the Senate passed the measure, Biden said in a statement, “I look forward to signing it into law.”

But conservative lawmakers have criticized the law as wasteful spending, and no Republican senator has backed it.

“Democrats are jamming through Congress a bill that spends hundreds of billions of dollars our country doesn’t have on far-left policies our country can’t afford,” Republican lawmaker Lee Zeldin tweeted. “I agree 100% NO.”

In the House of Representatives, the Democrats hold a slim majority, which is expected to hold. The three-hour debate began just before midday (1600 GMT), after which a vote is expected.

– Clean Energy Tax Credits –

Instead of trying to punish the biggest polluters in America’s corporations, the bill instead proposes a range of financial incentives designed to steer the country away from fossil fuels.

It would give Americans a tax credit of up to $7,500 when they buy an electric car, as well as a 30 percent rebate when installing solar panels on their roofs.

The legislation would also provide millions to protect and conserve forests devastated by wildfires during record heat waves in recent years that scientists say are linked to global warming.

Billions of dollars in tax credits would also go to some of the country’s most polluting industries to help them transition to greener practices — a measure bitterly opposed by progressive Democrats who, after months of inaction, have accepted it as the best option and frustration.

However, they had to give up their ambitions for free preschools and adult education centers and extended health care for older people a long time ago.

Your Democrats are eager to pass the legislation with no changes to reap the political benefits ahead of key elections in November.

– corporate tax –

Biden came into office with promises of sweeping reforms, but has repeatedly seen his hopes dashed, revived, and dashed again.

The 50-50 split in the Senate, with Harris as the tie-breaker, has effectively vetoed moderates like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who used that power to block Biden’s much expansionary Build Back Better plan.

But in late July, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer managed to negotiate a compromise with Manchin, whose economy is heavily dependent on coal mining.

To offset the plan’s massive spending, he would reduce the US deficit through a new minimum tax of 15 percent on companies with profits of $1 billion or more — a move targeting some who now pay far less.

According to some estimates, this measure could bring in more than $258 billion in tax revenue for the government over the next 10 years.

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