KIAWAH ISLAND, SC — President Joe Biden will sign the Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill into law on Tuesday, delivering what he called the “final piece” of his pared down national agenda, as he aims to strengthen his party’s position with voters less than three months before the midterm elections.
The legislation includes the largest federal investment in history to fight climate change — some $375 billion over the decade — and would cap prescription drug costs at $2,000 a year for Medicare beneficiaries. It would also help about 13 million Americans pay for health insurance by extending subsidies given during the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure is funded by new taxes on large corporations and strengthened IRS enforcement of wealthy individuals and entities, with additional funds earmarked to reduce the federal deficit.
The House approved the measure on Friday on a 220-207 party line vote. It passed the Senate days earlier, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie in that chamber.
Biden is about to sign the bill in a small ceremony in the White House State Dining Room, sandwiched between returning from a six-day beach vacation in South Carolina and leaving for his home in Wilmington, Delaware. He plans to hold a bigger “celebration” for the legislation on Sept. 6 once lawmakers return to Washington.
The signing caps a legislative productivity push for Biden and Congress, which in three months has approved legislation on veterans benefits, the semiconductor industry and gun controls for young buyers. The president and lawmakers also reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and backed NATO membership for Sweden and Finland.
With Biden’s approval rating trailing, Democrats are hoping the string of successes will boost their chances of maintaining control in Washington midterm in November. The 79-year-old president is aiming to restore his own standing with voters as he considers a re-election bid.
The White House announced on Monday that it will deploy Biden and members of his cabinet on a “Building a Better America” tour to promote recent victories, though the administration has yet to announce a trip. specific to the president.
“In the coming weeks, the President will host a Cabinet meeting focused on implementing the Cut Inflation Act, travel across the country to highlight how the bill will help the American people, and hold a event to celebrate the enactment of the bill at the White House on September 6,” the White House said in a statement.
Republicans say the legislation’s new business taxes will raise prices, worsening the nation’s fight with its highest inflation since 1981. Although Democrats called the measure a cut inflation act, nonpartisan analysts say it will have a barely perceptible impact on prices.
The measure is a slimmed down version of the more ambitious plan to boost environmental and social programs that Biden and his party unveiled early last year.
Biden’s original 10-year, $3.5 trillion proposal also included free preschool, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and eased immigration restrictions. It fell apart after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said it was too costly, using the influence of every Democrat in an evenly divided Senate.
Still, Biden and Democrats are hailing the legislation as a once-in-a-generation investment to address the long-term effects of climate change, as well as drought in the West.
Bill will guide spending, tax credits and loans to bolster technology like solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emissions reduction equipment for coal-fired power plants and gas and air pollution controls for farms, ports and low-income communities.
An additional $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums over the next three years for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Medicare would gain the power to negotiate its costs for pharmaceuticals, initially in 2026 for just 10 drugs. Prescription fees for Medicare beneficiaries would be capped at $2,000 a year starting in 2025, and starting next year they would pay no more than $35 a month for insulin, the expensive diabetes drug. diabetes.
Associated Press writer Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.