USA: The Senate passed the Biden plan for Climate and Health

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After 18 months of negotiations and a night of marathon debates, the US Senate approved Joe Biden’s major climate and health plan, handing the US president a major victory less than 100 days before the midterm elections.

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With their own votes alone, Democrats approved the more than $430 billion program, which will return to the House of Representatives next week for a final vote before being endorsed by Joe Biden.

“The road has been long, hard and full of twists and turns,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote to rapturous applause from Democratic senators.

Electric cars

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The product of difficult compromises with the right wing of the Democratic Party, the plan includes the largest US climate investment ever – $370 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

With this reform, an American will receive up to $7,500 in tax credit for the purchase of an electric car. The installation of solar panels on the roof will be subsidized at 30% of the cost.

The reform will also make it possible to strengthen the resilience of forests against the massive wildfires that plague the western regions of the United States, the proliferation of which is directly linked to climate change.

Several billion dollars in tax breaks will be offered to the most polluting industries as a boost to the energy transition process, a measure sharply criticized by the left wing of the Democratic Party, which ultimately came up with the text presented, in the absence of a more ambitious deal after the months-long negotiations.

Joe Biden came to the presidency by rolling out massive reform programs, which he was forced to bury, then bring back, only to be buried again by a moderate Democratic senator, Joe Manchin. Because of the narrow Democratic majority in the Senate, the senator from West Virginia, a state known for its coal mining, effectively has veto power over these bills.

At the end of July, Chuck Schumer managed to get Joe Manchin to agree to a compromise proposal.

– “Vote-a-rama” –

Yesterday, the senators finally started to discuss the text in the Hemicycle.

In the evening they began a marathon process called “vote-a-rama”, during which the senators, many of them advanced in age, presented for fifteen hours dozens of amendments, demanding a vote on each one.

The process gave the Republican opposition, which considers the Biden program too costly, and the left wing of the Democrats, which wanted it more ambitious, to present their objections.

The left-wing Democratic senator Bernie Sanders presented during the night a number of amendments aimed at strengthening the social character of the text, which in recent months had been significantly reduced.

The plan envisages investing $64 billion in health and gradually reducing the price of certain drugs, which in some cases are ten times more expensive in the US than in other rich countries.

But progressives were forced to abandon their ambitious plans for daycare centers and public universities, as well as to improve care for the elderly.

“Millions of retirees will continue to have rotten teeth and not have prosthetic dental work, hearing aids or glasses they’re entitled to,” said Bernie Sanders. “This bill does nothing to fix that problem.”

But the Democratic camp, seeking to implement this program before the November elections and offer a victory to the dwindling popularity of President Biden, was drafted to reject most of the amendments.

Along with the massive investments, the bill provides for the reduction of the budget deficit by imposing a new minimum tax of 15% on all companies whose profits exceed one billion dollars. The goal of the regulation is to prevent large companies from using loopholes in the law that until now allowed them to pay much lower taxes than they should theoretically pay.

According to estimates, this measure could yield $258 billion to the US federal government over the next ten years.

Biden welcomes the vote

US President Joe Biden welcomed the Senate’s passage of his major Climate and Health plan, the product of 18 months of difficult negotiations.

“A lot of compromises had to be made. Important things almost always require compromises,” the US president said in a statement calling on the House of Representatives to approve the text without delay.


Source: Capital

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