The U.S. Senate on Sunday passed a bill that members of President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party say aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions, lower drug prices for seniors and make people pay more taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. Now the package of measures worth $430 billion (CZK 10.3 trillion) is heading to the House of Representatives, where Biden’s party has the majority.
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 51 to 50. All 50 Democrats voted in favor and Vice President Kamala Harris added the deciding vote. Fifty Republican senators voted against. Republicans reject the plan because they say it will hurt the economy and fuel already high inflation.
The senators proceeded to vote after more than 15 hours of discussion on the amendments to the proposal. According to Reuters, a vote in the House of Representatives is expected on Friday, after which the law must be signed by the president.
“The House should pass the Climate Change, Taxes and Remedies Bill as soon as possible, and I look forward to signing it into law,” Biden said in a statement released after the vote.
If approved, the law is expected to provide the government with more than $700 billion (16.9 trillion Czech crowns) in revenue over the next ten years. Most of this amount is to be provided by the introduction of a 15% minimum tax on for-profit corporations, combined with a strengthening of the IRS. Passage of the bill would also allow the government’s health insurance program Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, which the bill’s authors say would save the state dozens billions of additional dollars.
The government will then use about $430 billion (CZK 10.3 trillion) of the revenue for its purposes. The climate and energy component of the package allocates $374 billion (nine trillion Czech crowns) to financial mechanisms to motivate businesses and citizens to reduce carbon emissions, which would be Washington’s biggest investment in the fight against climate change, according to the media.
The plan provides, for example, tax relief for manufacturers of solar panels or for individuals who buy an electric car. Other investments are expected to help Americans reduce their healthcare costs, such as capping payments for elderly people for prescription drugs at $2,000 (48,000 CZK) per year.