Politics

House Sends $740 Billion Green Energy, Healthcare Package To Biden’s Desk

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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The House of Representatives passed the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act Friday afternoon, giving Democrats and President Joe Biden a key legislative victory on reconciliation following a year of negotiations.

The act passed along party lines, 220-207, with four Republicans not voting. More than 180 members filed proxy letters with the House clerk allowing them to vote remotely. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: House Freedom Caucus Calls On Republicans To Oppose Climate Package ‘Through All Available Means’)

The legislation includes nearly $370 billion in green energy subsidies and tax credits, a prescription drug price fixing scheme, an increase in the corporate tax rate, and nearly $80 billion in new funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Despite the bill’s name, the Inflation Reduction Act is expected to have no impact on inflation.

“I think America needs a plan that actually works,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a floor speech urging his colleagues to vote against the bill. “Why, if you passed an American Rescue Plan that caused inflation that we haven’t seen in 41 years? Why, if you went after the fossil fuel of America that raised the price of gasoline that Americans haven’t seen before? Why do you keep harming the American public and you think doing the exact same thing is the answer to say it?”

McCarthy took advantage of the “magic minute” rule to speak for slightly less than an hour. The Republican leader used the rule in November 2021 to speak for more than eight-and-a-half hours, setting a chamber record. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer used the rule to speak for more than 20 minutes.

The vote concludes a process that began almost immediately after Congress passed the American Rescue Plan in March 2021. Left-wing members, including Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, called for a $6 trillion package focused on green energy, healthcare, and child care. Sanders and the majority of Democrats coalesced around a $3.5 trillion package, but West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin refused to support a bill of that size.

Manchin publicly feuded with the White House in December 2021 and January 2022, leading many Democrats to believe that a reconciliation package had no chance of passing. He repeatedly argued that an influx of federal spending would exacerbate inflation, which reached 8.5% year-over-year at the end of July. Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema had also declined to commit to supporting a large spending bill.

Manchin and Schumer renewed secret negotiations in July, announcing the Inflation Reduction Act shortly after the Senate passed the Chips And Science Act, while Sinema also struck a deal with Senate Democrats. The Senate passed the legislation in a 51-50 party-line vote after a more than 15 hour-long debate and amendment process that ran all night Saturday, Aug. 6 into Sunday, Aug. 7.