House Democrats advance tax and climate bill, kicking off debate
House Democrats advanced their multibillion-dollar climate, tax and health care bill on Friday, teeing up final passage of the legislation that is key to President Biden’s domestic agenda later in the day.
The House approved the rule for the bill, titled the Inflation Reduction Act, in a party-line 219-208 vote, opening three hours of debate equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. Three Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.
Final passage is slated for around 3 p.m., barring any unexpected hiccups, though it is possible the timing changes. Republicans may deploy delay tactics to drag out consideration of the bill, which could push final passage to later in the day.
The Senate cleared the tax-and-spending package in a party-line vote Sunday afternoon, with Vice President Harris casting the tiebreaking vote to send the legislation to the House.
The $740 billion bill includes provisions to increase taxes on corporations, address climate change, decrease the prices of prescription drugs and bring down the deficit.
It would provide incentives to businesses for deploying reduced-carbon and carbon-free energy sources, create programs to increase investment in climate and allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for some drugs, among other provisions.
The bill establishes new taxes on corporations to subsidize the new climate and health care measures. The main tax provision is a 15 percent minimum tax on income large corporations report to shareholders, commonly referred to as a minimum book tax.
The measure also provides $80 billion to improve enforcement at the IRS — which Democrats hope will allow the IRS to better monitor wealthy individuals to make sure they are not evading taxes — and it calls for a 1 percent excise tax on stock buybacks.
Senate passage marked the culmination of more than a year of negotiations between Democrats for a bill that would address climate change and health care, key parts of Biden’s domestic agenda.
The upper chamber cleared the bill through budget reconciliation, a process that allowed the caucus to pass the measure with a simple majority, bypassing a GOP filibuster.
The House passed a larger social spending and climate package, dubbed the Build Back Better Act, in November, but the roughly $2 trillion measure was blocked in the Senate after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he could not support the legislation.
Manchin killed another round of talks for a spending package in July, telling leaders that he would not back legislation with climate provisions or new tax hikes on corporations or wealthy individuals. He has been concerned about rising inflation.
But late last month, the West Virginia Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced a new deal, the Inflation Reduction Act, making another attempt at passing a spending package. The legislation secured support from centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) after further negotiations days later, paving the way for Senate passage.