Without the support of a single Republican, Democrats in the U.S. House on Friday gave final passage to a $740 billion piece of legislation that includes historic investments in renewable energy development, a minimum tax on large corporations, and a landmark requirement for Medicare to directly negotiate the prices of a subset of prescription drugs.
Democratic proponents of the bill and outside groups have hailed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as the most significant climate action measure ever passed by U.S. lawmakers, even though the package contains substantial handouts to the fossil fuel industry alongside the slew of tax incentives and subsidies for green energy that could substantially curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The Senate passed the reconciliation bill along party lines last weekend, and Friday’s final vote in the House was 220 to 207, with all Democrats in favor and a “nay” from every single member of the Republican caucus who voted.
“Today, Democrats are keeping our promises to the American people and advancing key progressive priorities,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, following the vote.
“After more than a year of negotiations and even longer campaigning on these issues, the Democratic majority in Congress has unanimously sent a sweeping bill to tackle climate action, tax fairness, and lower drug costs to the President’s desk,” Jayapal said. “Like their Senate colleagues, not a single House Republican voted for this legislation, despite its popularity with the majority of Americans across the political spectrum.”
President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law as soon as Friday evening, capping off more than a year of negotiations that were repeatedly sabotaged by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who succeeded in dramatically scaling back their party’s agenda.
While acknowledging the IRA “is not perfect” given provisions that “that risk expanding fossil fuel extraction and use,” Union of Concerned Scientists president Johanna Chao Kreilick said the IRA is “a game-changer and reason for hope.”
“We finally have a Congress that’s heeding the science on the severity of human-caused climate change and incentivizing the clean energy solutions that are supported by the vast majority of people in the United States,” said Kreilick. “It’s extremely disappointing and alarming that despite the urgency to act, Republican lawmakers have largely refused to support critical climate policy.”
Every member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus voted for the bill despite grassroots climate advocates’ vocal concerns about the legislation’s giveaways to the fossil fuel industry, including a section that requires new oil and gas lease sales as a prerequisite for wind and solar development.
“It is a start, and we have more work to do to fully respond to the cost of living crisis,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) after the bill’s passage.
“People deserve lower insulin prices and lower drug prices in general, including if you have private health insurance,” Bowman continued. “We need to protect frontline communities from fossil fuel pollution, and finally end our dependence on oil, gas, and coal. Our work continues to deliver affordable, quality housing, child care, and education, a $15 minimum wage, immigration justice, and more. As we celebrate the progress made today, we recommit to addressing every priority in Build Back Better and more.”
During a press conference ahead of Friday’s vote, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)—chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus—said the IRA “marks the largest-ever federal investment in climate action, putting the United States back on track to cut carbon pollution by 40% by 2030,” a projection that some climate advocates have questioned given its dependence on the effectiveness of unproven carbon capture technology.
“We’ve got more to do,” Jayapal said on the House floor, pointing to the bill’s exclusion of housing and child care funding. “But today, let’s celebrate this massive investment for the people.”
This story originally appeared on Common Dreams