Arabnews24.ca:Sunday 7 August 2022 04:10 PM: The United States Senate has approved a sweeping package that supporters say will slash climate heating carbon emissions, lower drug prices for the elderly and demand higher taxes from corporations and the wealthy.
The legislation is less ambitious than President Joe Biden's original domestic goals, but still a major victory that Democrats hope will boost their chances of keeping control of Congress in November's mid-term elections.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) encapsulates party ideals of tackling global heating, tempering pharmaceutical costs and taxing big corporations.
After a marathon, two-day weekend session of debate, and dozens of Republican efforts to torpedo the package, the Senate approved the bill by a 51-50 party line vote. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking ballot.
"The time is now to move forward with a big, bold package for the American people," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at the start of debate on Saturday night.
He said the legislation contains "the boldest clean energy package in American history" to fight climate change while
reducing consumer costs for energy and some medicines.
As the measure pays for itself and reduces the federal deficit over time, Democrats argue that it will help bring down inflation, an economic liability that could hamper their efforts to retain legislative control in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.
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Republicans argue the bill will not address inflation, slamming the measure as a job-killing, left-wing spending wish list. They argue it could undermine growth just as the economy is in danger of falling into recession.
"Democrats vote again to allow chaos on the southern border to continue," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell in a statement.
The document named Democratic Senators Mark Kelly of Arizona, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who are all facing tight contests for reelection in November.
The House of Representatives - the US's lower chamber - will now vote on the measure when it returns briefly from summer recess on Friday. Upon winning final congressional approval, the measure would then go to President Biden for final sign-off.
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, offered a number of amendments to expand Medicare, create a civilian conservation corps and reduce child poverty, but was defeated by lawmakers from both parties.