Biden to sign massive climate, health care legislation

With midterm elections in less than three months, the legislation includes a $375 billion investment to fight climate change. It also would help around 13 million Americans pay for health care insurance.

With less than three months until the midterm elections, President Joe Biden will sign Democrats’ historic climate change and health care bill on Tuesday, completing what he has referred to as the “final piece” of his condensed domestic agenda.

The legislation would cap the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 per year in out-of-pocket expenses and would include the largest federal investment in history in the fight against climate change, totaling $375 billion over a ten-year period.

It would also extend subsidies offered during the coronavirus pandemic, aiding an estimated 13 million Americans in paying for health insurance.

The measure is funded in part by increased IRS enforcement of wealthy individuals and entities as well as new taxes on large corporations, with additional funds going toward reducing the federal deficit.

On a party-line vote, the House approved the measure on Friday, 220-207. Days earlier, Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-50 tie in the Senate to help the measure pass.

Between his arrival from a six-day beach vacation in South Carolina and his departure for his home in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden is scheduled to sign the legislation in a brief ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House. On September 6, once lawmakers return to Washington, he intends to hold a larger “celebration” for the legislation.

The signing marks the end of a surge in legislative accomplishments for Biden and Congress, who in the past three months have passed bills addressing the semiconductor industry, young buyers’ access to firearms, and veteran benefits. The president and lawmakers also reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and supported Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO.

With Biden’s approval rating lagging, Democrats are hoping that the string of successes will jump-start their chances of maintaining control in Washington in the November midterms. The 79-year-old president aims to restore his own standing with voters as he contemplates a reelection bid.

Although the administration has not yet disclosed the president’s exact itinerary, the White House announced on Monday that it would send Biden and members of his Cabinet on a “Building a Better America Tour” to promote the recent victories.

The Inflation Reduction Act will be implemented by the President’s Cabinet in the upcoming weeks, according to a statement from the White House. The President will also tour the nation to demonstrate how the bill will benefit the American people. On September 6, the President will host an event at the White House to commemorate the bill’s enactment.

Republicans say the legislation’s new business taxes will increase prices, worsening the nation’s bout with its highest inflation since 1981. Though Democrats have labeled the measure the Inflation Reduction Act, nonpartisan analysts say it will have a barely perceptible impact on prices.

The proposal is a scaled-back version of the more expansive plan to boost social and environmental programs that Biden and his party unveiled at the beginning of last year.

Free pre-kindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and loosened immigration restrictions were also included in Biden’s initial 10-year, $3.5 trillion proposal. Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, used his influence in the Senate’s evenly divided majority to call it too expensive and bring it to a halt.

Still, Biden and Democrats are hailing the legislation as a once-in-a-generation investment in addressing the long-term effects of climate change, as well as drought in the nation’s West.

The bill will direct spending, tax credits, and loans to bolster technology like solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emission-reducing equipment for coal- and gas-powered power plants, and air pollution controls for farms, ports, and low-income communities.

Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums over the next three years for privately bought health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Medicare would gain the power to negotiate its costs for pharmaceuticals, initially in 2026 for only 10 drugs. Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket prescription costs would be limited to $2,000 annually starting in 2025, and beginning next year would pay no more than $35 monthly for insulin, the costly diabetes drug.

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