SC’s House Republicans vote ‘no’ on inflation bill now headed for Biden’s desk to sign

Susan Walsh/AP
·4 min read

All six of South Carolina’s U.S. House Republicans on Friday voted against the Democratic-led effort to reduce inflation, address climate change and reduce the cost of prescription drugs, known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

The legislation passed the House Friday in a 220-207 vote, and is now headed to President Joe Biden for his signature.

South Carolina Republican U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan of Anderson, Nancy Mace, of Daniel Island, Ralph Norman of Rock Hill, Tom Rice of Myrtle Beach, William Timmons of Greenville, and Joe Wilson of Springdale, , all voted against the bill.

“Calling a tax, spending and climate change bill the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ is peak Democrat nonsense,” Timmons tweeted before the vote. “These are the same people who are trying to change the definition of recession, refuse to define ‘woman’ and believe inflation is currently at 0%.”

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, was the lone South Carolinian in Congress to vote for the bill, which allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices for high-cost drugs and caps the cost of insulin to $35 a month for Medicare recipients.

“This is a giant step forward and we will continue working to overcome the Republican opposition that blocks extending the same life saving measures to those on private insurance,” Clyburn said on the floor.

The legislation also adds a 16.4-cents-per-barrel tax on oil, and it adds new IRS employees to improve efforts to fight high-end tax evasion.

Republicans have said about 87,000 new IRS agents would be added to the agency’s ranks. However, the IRS has yet to release how many people it will hire, but those employees all won’t be hired at the same time. The agency has lost about 50,000 employees over the past five years because of attrition and more than half of its enforcement employees are eligible for retirement, according to the Associated Press.

“The Republican plan to reduce inflation is stop spending in Washington, increase incentives in the private sector for growth,” said U.S. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who voted against the bill along with Sen. Tim Scott last weekend when the Senate passed the bill. “I believe climate change is real, but that’s no reason to destroy our economy. So our plan is not to increase taxes on energy production in America. Our plan would be to make it easier to extract fossil fuels that we own here, to be less dependent on foreign oil buying oil from people who hate our guts.”

Earlier this week, Graham and Gov. Henry McMaster at the State House railed against the bill, which includes a 15% minimum tax on corporations making more than $1 billion.

“We’re taxed enough,” McMaster said. “What we need to do spend the money on the right things. This is going in the wrong direction.”

Graham went as far to call out McMaster’s November general election opponent to ask where he stands on the bill.

“To take a pass on this is not fair,” Graham said. “So I hope Joe Cunningham and others running for office on the Democratic side will speak up one way or the other.”

Cunningham fired back at Graham in a statement provided to The State.

”It was quite rich to watch a senator who just voted against capping the price of insulin at $35 stand beside a governor who refused to temporarily suspend the gas tax when prices hit record levels and hold a press conference to talk about inflation,” Cunningham said. “If these two career politicians are looking out for the middle class, then I’m Batman.”

Cunningham did not say whether he would have voted for the measure if he were still in Congress, but said it had “good” elements.

“While I have not analyzed the entire bill, there are certainly good parts, like allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors and its investment in American jobs,” Cunningham added. “Solving (inflation) will require our leaders to put down their partisan swords and work together. When I was in Congress, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to get things done. I encourage our elected officials to do that now to lower prices for food, gas and other goods, and make it easier for people to get ahead.”