House passes Inflation Reduction Act, sends it to Biden

·4 min read

WASHINGTON –The House on Friday passed the Inflation Reduction Act along party lines, rounding out a series of recent wins for President Joe Biden.

The House voted 220-207, with no Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the act.

It now heads to Biden, who is expected to sign it into law next week after months of negotiations between moderate and progressive Democrats, who ultimately reached an agreement late last month.

"We're unified!," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told USA TODAY. "(Democrats are) all in this together. We are all making life better for the American people."

Lawmakers applaud US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after she signed the Inflation Reduction Act after the House of Representatives voted 220-207 to pass it at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on August 12, 2022.
Lawmakers applaud US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after she signed the Inflation Reduction Act after the House of Representatives voted 220-207 to pass it at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on August 12, 2022.

The sweeping legislation on health care, climate and taxes passed through the Senate 51-50 along party lines last week after a 15-hour session of debate, amendments and negotiation ending in Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.

"There are a few days in a congressional career that feel truly historic. To me, this is one of them," House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said on the floor ahead of the vote.

"This legislation is historic, it's transformative and really a cause for celebration," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a news conference ahead of the vote.

House Republicans criticized the Inflation Reduction Act as overreaching and said the billions of dollars in spending wouldn't solve inflation.

"Today the majority jams through another spending spree," House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy said in his nearly 50-minute speech on the floor ahead of the vote. "I believe the largest tone-deaf bill we’ve seen in this chamber in 230 years.

"Passing this bill today means more expensive bills for Americans tomorrow."

Some voters, and progressive lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have said the Inflation Reduction Act doesn’t do enough to immediately alleviate strains on working families. He voted for the measure despite his tepid backing, saying the bill was a worthy down payment and signaling to other progressives they should support it as well.

More: Here's how the Inflation Reduction Act could save consumers money and protect the planet

It’s hard to show how the bill translates into immediate, meaningful change for Americans’ wallets, said Casey Burgat, legislative affairs program director at George Washington University.

But it is “a huge, landmark piece of legislation,” he said. “It’s a Democratic bill through and through. It’s not as big as they wanted it to be, but it’s what is passable in a 50-50 Senate headed into a midterm.”

This vote follows a productive summer for Democrats, who passed a gun control bill, the CHIPS Act to boost high-tech manufacturing and the PACT Act to aid veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, as well as approving Finland and Sweden’s entry to NATO.

Democratic members of the House of Representatives embrace and give high-fives after the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 passed 220-207 on the House floor at the U.S. Capitol on August 12, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Democratic members of the House of Representatives embrace and give high-fives after the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 passed 220-207 on the House floor at the U.S. Capitol on August 12, 2022 in Washington, DC.

That’s a remarkable lineup of legislation in a Senate Democratic majority that can’t afford to lose one vote and has to negotiate with a range of ideologies from Sanders to Sen. Joe Manchin, a coal-country moderate representing West Virginia, Burgat said.

“It’s a surprising amount they’ve gotten done,” he said.

The Inflation Reduction Act – a pared-down version of Biden's original Build Back Better plan – will now go to the president's desk for a signature.

Biden's original $1.7 trillion domestic package included an array of social investments like universal preschool, paid family leave and an expanded child tax credit. Those social programs were cut over a year of negotiations in the Senate, with moderate Democrats such as Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona taking aim at the bill's cost and impact on the growing national debt.

Even as concessions in negotiations stripped the bill of many social investments and pared down climate investments by more than $100 billion, progressive Democrats still celebrated the Inflation Reduction Act as a legislative win and the largest investment in climate in the nation's history.

"There would be no Inflation Reduction Act without Build Back Better, and there would be no Build Back Better without the work of the progressive caucus," Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., said in a progressive caucus news conference early Friday.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and fellow members of the House Progressive Caucus hold a news conference ahead of Friday's vote on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and fellow members of the House Progressive Caucus hold a news conference ahead of Friday's vote on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

The 10-year, $739 billion package will raise taxes on certain corporations while reducing the deficit by about $100 billion over the next decade.

The bill would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices – long opposed by the pharmaceutical industry – and extend Affordable Care Act subsidies three more years through 2025.

"We have been trying for decades to prevail, to win legislation that enabled the (Health and Human Services) secretary to negotiate lower drug prices," Pelosi said in a news conference. "Big Pharma has had a stranglehold on Congress, and we couldn't get it done until now."

It also would reinstate a tax on the oil industry to help pay for the cleanup of hazardous Superfund sites. And it would add 87,000 IRS workers to help process a lengthy backlog of audits, which McCarthy called the "most chilling" part of the act.

Candy Woodall is a Congress reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at cwoodall@usatoday.com or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House passes Inflation Reduction Act, a Biden win for health, climate