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US Senate approves USD 430-billion Inflation Reduction Act

The US Senate on Sunday passed a sweeping USD 430-billion Inflation Reduction Act bill intended to fight climate change, lower drug prices and raise some corporate taxes. This was a major victory for President Joe Biden that Democrats hope will aid their chances of keeping control of Congress in this year’s elections.

After a marathon, 27-hour weekend session of debate and Republican efforts to derail the package, the Senate approved the legislation known as the Inflation Reduction Act by a 51-50 party line vote. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking ballot.

The action sends the measure to the House of Representatives for a vote, likely Friday when representatives plan to reconvene briefly during a summer recess. They are expected to pass it, which would then send the bill to the White House for Mr Biden’s signature. In a statement, Mr Biden said he looked forward to signing the bill into law.

“The Senate is making history,” an elated Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, after pumping his fists in the air as Democrats cheered and their staff members responded to the vote with a standing ovation.

“To Americans who’ve lost faith that Congress can do big things, this bill is for you,” he said. “This bill is going to change America for decades.”

The legislation is aimed at reducing carbon emissions and shifting consumers to green energy, while cutting prescription drug costs for the elderly and tightening enforcement on taxes for corporations and the wealthy.

Because the measure pays for itself and reduces the federal deficit over time, Democrats contend that it will help bring down inflation, an economic liability that has also weighed on their hopes of retaining legislative control in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.

Criticisms of the bill
Republicans, arguing that the bill will not address inflation, have denounced the measure as a job-killing, left-wing spending wish list that could undermine growth when the economy is in danger of falling into recession.

Some political commentators have noted that the Biden administration is doing its utmost to disguise the severity of the economic situation by changing the definition of recession to mask the fact the US is in one.

Having already allocated trillions of dollars in response to the pandemic and inflation, the Democrats have now voted to further spend their way out of inflation. Eager to appear pro-active over inflation, with the midterms approaching in autumn, some critics argue that the Inflation Reduction Act will not reduce inflation but will in fact increase it.
Furthermore, the details of the Act reveal that the legislation for cutting the cost of prescription drugs will not actually come into effect until 2026.
How the bill was passed
Democrats approved the bill by using a parliamentary manoeuvre called reconciliation, which allows budget-related legislation to avoid the 100-seat chamber’s 60-vote threshold for most bills and pass on a simple majority.

After several hours of debate, the Senate began a rapid-fire “vote-a-rama” on Democratic and Republican amendments on Saturday evening that stretched into Sunday afternoon.

Democrats repelled more than 30 Republican amendments, points of order and motions, all intended to scupper the legislation. Any change in the bill’s contents wrought by an amendment could have unravelled the Democrats’ 50-senator coalition needed to keep the legislation on track.

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