Biden signs massive climate and health legislation | health and fitness
By ZEKE MILLER – Associated Press
KIAWAH ISLAND, SC (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to sign Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill Tuesday, delivering what he has described as the “last slice” of his trimmed domestic political agenda as he seeks to advance his party’s boost with voters standing less than three months before the midterm elections.
The legislation includes the largest federal investment in history to fight climate change — about $375 billion over the decade — and would limit prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries to $2,000 a year. It would also help an estimated 13 million Americans pay for health insurance by extending subsidies provided during the coronavirus pandemic.
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The measure will be paid for by new taxes on large corporations and increased IRS enforcement on wealthy individuals and corporations, with additional funds set to reduce the federal deficit.
The House of Representatives approved the measure on Friday by a party-line vote of 220 to 207. It happened in the Senate days earlier when Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-50 tie in that chamber.
Biden is scheduled to sign the bill during a small ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House, which falls between his return from a six-day beach vacation in South Carolina and his departure for Wilmington, Delaware. He plans to hold a major “celebration” for the Legislature on Sept. 6 once lawmakers return to Washington.
The signing caps a boost in legislative productivity for Biden and Congress, which in three months passed legislation on veterans’ benefits, the semiconductor industry and gun controls for young buyers. The President and MPs have also responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supported Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership.
With Biden’s approval rating lagging, Democrats are hoping the string of wins will boost their chances of maintaining control of Washington in November’s midterm elections. The 79-year-old president wants to restore his standing with voters as he ponders re-election.
The White House announced Monday that it would send Biden and members of his cabinet on a “Building a Better America Tour” to promote recent victories, though the administration is yet to announce a specific presidential trip.
“In the coming weeks, the President will host a Cabinet meeting focused on implementing the Anti-Inflation Act, tour the country to highlight how the Act will help the American people and host an event to celebrate the passage of the Act the White House on September 6,” the White House said in a statement.
Republicans say the law’s new corporate taxes will raise prices and exacerbate the nation’s struggle with the highest inflation since 1981. Although Democrats have dubbed the measure the Inflation Reduction Act, impartial analysts say it will have little noticeable impact on prices.
The measure is a stripped-down version of the more ambitious plan to supercharge environmental and social programs that Biden and his party unveiled early last year.
Biden’s original $3.5 trillion 10-year proposal also included free pre-kindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and relaxed immigration restrictions. That crashed after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said it was too costly by using the influence every Democrat has in the evenly divided Senate.
Still, Biden and Democrats welcome the legislation as a one-time investment in addressing the long-term effects of climate change and drought in the nation’s west.
The bill will direct spending, tax credits and loans to support technologies such as solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emission-reducing equipment for coal and gas-fired power plants, and clean air for farms, ports and low-income communities.
Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act over the next three years. Medicare would be given the power to negotiate its drug costs, initially in 2026 for just 10 drugs. Medicare beneficiaries’ prescription costs would be capped at $2,000 annually starting in 2025, and starting next year, insulin, the costly diabetes drug, would be paying no more than $35 a month.
Associated Press writer Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.
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