House Democrats voted unanimously on Friday for the spending bill which would attempt to tackle climate change, the high cost of prescription drugs and lower the deficit by roughly $300 billion. It was passed without any Republican support and now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature.
The bill, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, is a very scaled-down solution to what many Democrats, including President Biden, had asked for originally. However, even in its limited form, it remains the country’s largest ever investment in clean energy, for it promises to allocate billions of dollars in tax credits to encourage home installation of energy efficiency technology, purchases of electric vehicles and investments in renewable generation. It will also work to lower health insurance costs for about 13 million Americans, capping medicine costs for seniors at $2,000 annually. Diabetes patients with Medicare will only have to pay $35 monthly for insulin. Finally, the legislation will create a 15% minimum tax for corporations making $1 billion or more in income, bringing in more than $300 billion in revenue.
The legislation was passed through the budget reconciliation process, which meant that all 50 Democrats in the Senate and one tie-breaker vote from Vice President Harris were needed, since none of the 50 Republican senators voted for the bill, including Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
Texas is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events such as heat waves and hurricanes exacerbated by climate change. Though the state’s oil and gas industry will be directly impacted by a methane reduction program, Texas is also a leader in renewable power, generating more wind power than any other state.
Moreover, the bill’s expansion of the Affordable Care Act is significant for the 1.8 million Texans who currently use it. According to Tina Tran, Texas state director at AARP, 106,000 individuals in the state would benefit from the $2,000 yearly out of pocket cap for Medicaid beneficiaries.
Democrats celebrated the bill’s passing after months of gridlock. However, it was a far cry from the $3.5 trillion behemoth Democrats initially proposed last year. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin was the most outspoken obstacle to the original bill’s passage, though many Texas Democrats had also expressed their concerns, primarily over domestic energy production. However, all Texas Democrats voted in line with their party on Friday. Biden said he will sign the “historic legislation” this week.