Democrats approve health and climate law in Congress



WASHINGTON (AP) — The divided U.S. Congress gave final approval Friday to the Democrats’ health care and climate change bill, handing President Joe Biden a win the party hopes will boost his chances of retaining his majorities. in the House of Representatives and the Senate in the November elections.

The lower house approved the bill with a vote of 220-207, in accordance with partisan blocs, after which the Democrats hugged each other on the floor of the chamber and White House staff who followed the session on television erupted in cheers .

“Today the American people won. Special interests lost,” tweeted Biden, who is vacationing on Kiawah Island in South Carolina, smiling broadly as he watched the event on television in a photo released by the White House. She said that she will sign the law next week.

The move is but a shadow of a broader and more ambitious plan to give a big boost to environmental and social programs that Biden and his party unveiled last year. Still, Democrats gleefully claimed victory on issues like providing public investment in cutting carbon emissions, curbing pharmaceutical costs and taxing big companies, hoping to show they can pull off gains in a Washington often plagued by legislative deadlock.

“Today is a day of celebration, a day in which we take another gigantic step in our transcendental agenda,” said Nancy Pelosi, president of the House of Representatives, who minutes later announced the final result of the vote. She said the move “is at the height of the moment, ensuring our families thrive and our planet survives.”

Republicans strongly opposed the bill, calling it a cornucopia of wasteful liberal daydreams that will cause taxes and the cost of living for families to rise. They did the same thing Sunday, but Senate Democrats closed ranks and used Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote to push the measure through the upper house.

“Democrats, more than any other majority in history, have an addiction to spending other people’s money, no matter what we can spend as a country,” said Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. .

Biden’s initial proposal of $3.5 trillion over 10 years also included free kindergarten, paid sick and family leave, expanded Medicare benefits, and loosened restrictions on immigration. The proposal fell apart after Sen. Joe Manchin said it was too costly, using the clout that all Democrats have in the evenly divided Senate.

Even so, the final legislation remains substantive. Its cornerstone is some $375 billion over 10 years to encourage industry and consumers to switch from carbon-emitting forms of energy to cleaner ones. That includes $4 billion to deal with the catastrophic drought in the west of the country.

Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay their private health insurance premiums over the next three years. Medicare would get the power to negotiate its costs for pharmaceuticals, initially in 2026 for just 10 drugs. Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket expenses on prescription drugs would be capped at $2,000 starting in 2025, and beginning next year they would pay no more than $35 a month for insulin.

The bill would raise some $740 billion in revenue over the decade, more than a third of which would come from government savings from lower drug prices. Other revenue would come from raising taxes on corporations by $1 billion, from levies on companies that buy back their own shares and from higher revenues.

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Associated Press writers Seung Min Kim and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.





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