Hundreds of lawmakers and guests gathered Tuesday on the White House South Lawn to celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act, the sweeping health care, climate and tax package that President Joe Biden signed last month after almost a year of off-and-on negotiations among Democrats in Congress.
“Today offers proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright and the promise of America is real,” Biden said.
He also highlighted the ways in which the law is expected to lower the cost of prescription drugs like insulin, and touted the record-high $360 billion investment in climate and energy initiatives included in the legislation.
Biden signed the historic bill, which aims to lower health care costs, address climate change, cut the national deficit and raise taxes on big corporations, on Aug. 16 after it received party-line votes in both the House and Senate.
The president did not ignore the lack of Republican support for legislation he said would deliver relief to families struggling with rising costs from inflation.
“I believe Republicans could’ve and should’ve joined us,” Biden said Tuesday.
The legislation is a slimmed-down version of the Build Back Better act, a $1.75 trillion social spending and climate mitigation bill that failed in the Senate after negotiations between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and fellow Senate Democrats fell through. Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer resumed negotiations behind the scenes early this year and through the summer before announcing a deal on July 27.
“In normal times, getting any one bill through the Senate is difficult,” Schumer said at the event Tuesday, “But to pass the Inflation Reduction Act with only 50 Democratic votes in the Senate, over an intransigent Republican minority, shows how dedicated and persistent our caucus is. I applaud you all.”
Biden also specifically thanked Manchin for his support.
“Joe, thanks for sticking with what you said you would do, appreciate it,” he said.
The celebration came on the heels of a report released Tuesday that shows consumer prices remain high despite slowing inflation in August. Consumer prices were 8.3 percent higher in August compared with last year, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report, a drop from the 8.5 percent surge in July and below June’s four-decade high of 9.1 percent, but still higher than economists predicted. While gas prices continued their downward slide, prices for groceries were up 11.4 percent in August year over year, the largest yearly jump since 1979.
At the event Tuesday, Biden noted that gas prices were down an average of $1.30 since the beginning of the summer, and said, “We’re getting other prices down, too.”
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