President Joe Biden hosted a celebration of the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House on Tuesday, highlighting a big political win for him and congressional Democrats eight weeks before midterm elections.
The health care, climate and tax law was passed just before lawmakers left on its summer recess and represents a long-sought major legislative accomplishment for Democrats as they hope to keep control of Congress.
With lawmakers now back in town, hundreds of people gathered at the South Lawn to commemorate the victory alongside Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers and Cabinet members seated in the front rows.
The event kicked off with a performance by James Taylor, who sang “Fire and Rain” and “America The Beautiful.” In between songs, Taylor said the world needs to come together to fight climate change.
Harris and Biden, in their remarks, highlighted the work the administration is doing on climate, with Biden saying he wants to take the “most aggressive action ever” to confront the crisis.
“Today offers proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright and the promise of America is real,” he said.
Biden praised Republicans who joined Democrats to pass the infrastructure law and CHIPS and Sciences Act but said the GOP “could have and should have” supported the Inflation Reduction Act.
“In the end, every single Republican voted against this historic law,” he said.
The White House event included several swipes at Republicans, with Biden accusing Sen. Ron Johnson of targeting Social Security benefits and Schumer swiping at Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposed national abortion ban.
“We’re here to talk about things that matter to families: lowering costs, creating jobs and helping them make ends meet,” Schumer said. “What are the MAGA Republicans doing over in the Capitol today? Introducing national bans on abortion. Just unbelievable.”
The Inflation Reduction Act passed the Senate by just one vote on Aug. 7, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. The House passed the bill the day before by a 220-207 margin.
Since Biden signed the bill last month, members of his Cabinet and other administration officials have hit the road to promote the Inflation Reduction Act. According to the White House, officials plan to travel to 23 states to tout the law.
The Inflation Reduction Act aims to make prescription drugs more affordable, to prop up clean energy technologies and lower greenhouse emissions.
The legislation is estimated to generate more than $300 billion in revenue by imposing a 15% minimum tax on corporations making over $1 billion and a new excise tax on corporate stock buybacks.
But it lacked many of the priorities Democrats hoped to include in a major spending package, including universal pre-K and paid family leave.
Republicans have scorned the law’s tax provisions and are specifically targeting the additional funding the law provides for the Internal Revenue Service, which they claim will lead to the hiring of 87,000 new agents to target middle class Americans. The IRS has rejected those arguments.
The GOP has also questioned how much it will reduce inflation amid various, sometimes conflicting forecasts about exactly how much the law would help reduce prices.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found the law will reduce federal budget deficits by $102 billion over 10 years but would have a “negligible” impact on inflation this year and next year.
Inflation data released on Tuesday revealed that consumer prices rose slightly in August, with the Consumer Price Index showing an 8.3% increase over last year and a 0.1% increase over the prior month.
Several Republicans seized on the new numbers out Tuesday morning.
“So much for Biden’s so-called Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats should have called it the Paycheck Reduction Act,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is running for governor in Arkansas, tweeted.
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., tweeted: “Inflation is up 8.3%. Food, shelter, and electricity are all up double digits. This is crushing poor families and seniors on fixed income. What are Dems doing today … Celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Source: ABC News