The Senate passes the largest climate legislation in US history

The Senate passes the largest climate legislation in US history
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) walks into the Radio TV gallery to speak to the media after the 51-50 vote passed the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022" on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. August 7, 2022. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

For a while now, Democrats in the US Senate have been wrangling with Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrstin Sinema, two relatively moderate Democrats who have been negotiating versions of legislation they want. Being the 49th and 50th votes for Democrats, they held a lot of power since a 50 vote threshold is necessary to pass something.

But on Sunday, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a US$739 billion bill that will pump money into climate initiatives, healthcare and the economy. The bill is the largest ever investment in climate in the US, and experts predict it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 over 2005 levels.

The bill is paid for by a new corporate minimum tax, a 1% tax on stock buybacks, and more funding for the IRS to go after tax evaders. It also allows government health entities to negotiate prescription drug prices with companies.

Key Comments:

“It’s been a long, tough and winding road, but at last we have arrived. I know it’s been a long day and a long night. But we’ve gotten it done today," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer before the vote. “After more than a year of hard work, the Senate is making history. I am confident the Inflation Reduction Act will endure as one of the defining legislative feats of the 21st century."

US climate bill
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks with reporters after walking off the Senate floor during voting for the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022," at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 7, 2022. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

“Today, Senate Democrats sided with American families over special interests, voting to lower the cost of prescription drugs, health insurance and everyday energy costs and reduce the deficit, while making the wealthiest corporations finally pay their fair share,” said Biden in a statement. “I ran for president promising to make government work for working families again, and that is what this bill does – period.”