KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina –
US President Joe Biden will sign the Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill on Tuesday, delivering what he called the “final piece” of his narrowed domestic agenda as it aims to improve the position of his party among voters in less than three months. before the midterm elections.
The legislation includes the largest federal investment in history to combat climate change — some $375 billion over the decade — and would limit prescription drug costs to $2,000 a year out of pocket for Medicare beneficiaries. It would also help an estimated 13 million Americans pay for health care insurance by extending subsidies provided during the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure is paid for with new taxes on large businesses and increased IRS enforcement on wealthy individuals and entities, with additional funds earmarked for reducing the federal deficit.
The House approved the measure on Friday with a party-line vote of 220-207. Passed the Senate days earlier with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie in that chamber.
Biden is set to sign the bill during a small ceremony in the White House State Dining Room between his return from a six-day beachside vacation in South Carolina and his departure for his home in Wilmington, Delaware. . He plans to hold a bigger “celebration” for the legislation on Sept. 6 once lawmakers return to Washington.
The signing caps a streak of legislative productivity for Biden and Congress, which in three months passed legislation on veterans benefits, the semiconductor industry and gun controls for young buyers. The president and lawmakers also responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supported NATO membership for Sweden and Finland.
With Biden’s approval rating lagging, Democrats hope the string of successes will boost their chances of maintaining control in Washington in the November midterm elections. The 79-year-old president aims to restore his own standing with voters as he contemplates a re-election bid.
The White House announced Monday that it would send Biden and members of his cabinet on a “Building a Better America” tour to promote recent victories, though the administration has yet to announce a specific trip for the president.
“In the coming weeks, the President will host a Cabinet meeting focused on the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, travel across the country to highlight how the bill will help the American people, and host an event to celebrate its signing into law. of the bill at the White House on September 6,” the White House said in a statement.
Republicans say the legislation’s new business taxes will drive up prices, worsening the nation’s struggle with its highest inflation since 1981. Although Democrats have called the measure the Inflation Reduction Act, nonpartisan analysts they say it will have a barely perceptible impact on prices.
The measure is a scaled-down version of the more ambitious plan to boost environmental and social programs that Biden and his party unveiled early last year.
Biden’s initial 10-year, $3.5 trillion proposal also provided for free pre-kindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and easier immigration restrictions. That collapsed after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said it was too costly, using the influence each Democrat has in the evenly divided Senate.
Still, Biden and Democrats hail the legislation as a once-in-a-generation investment to address the long-term effects of climate change, as well as drought in the western United States.
The bill will direct spending, tax credits and loans to boost technology like solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emission-reducing equipment for coal-fired power plants and gas, and air pollution controls for farms, ports, and low-energy plants. income communities.
Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums over the next three years for privately purchased health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Medicare would gain the power to negotiate its pharmaceutical costs, initially in 2026 for just 10 drugs. Medicare beneficiaries’ prescription costs would be capped at $2,000 a year starting in 2025, and starting next year they would pay no more than $35 a month for insulin, the expensive diabetes drug.
Associated Press writer Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.