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Senate Passes $739 Billion Climate and Healthcare Bill

HeadlineAug 08, 2022

The Senate has passed a sweeping $739 billion bill to address the climate crisis, reduce drug costs and establish a 15% minimum tax for large corporations. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the deciding vote Sunday after every Republican in the Senate voted no. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer described the legislation as the boldest climate package in U.S. history.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “The Senate has now passed the most significant bill to fight the climate crisis ever, and it’s going to make a difference to my grandkids. The world will be a better place for my grandchildren because of what we did today, and that makes me feel very, very good.”

Many climate groups praised the Senate for taking action but said far bolder steps are needed to address the climate emergency. Varshini Prakash, the founder of the Sunrise Movement, tweeted, “This isn’t the bill my generation deserves but it is the one we can get. It must pass to give us a fighting chance at a livable world.” She went to write, “Youth leaders to Congress–Pass this bill, then get back to work.”

The Senate bill aims to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 40% by the end of this decade. But it also includes controversial provisions added to win support from West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema. At Manchin’s request, the bill will make it easier for the pipeline industry to win approval of new projects, including the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia. The bill could also lead to more drilling on public lands and waters and expand tax credits for fossil coal and gas-burning plants. The Center for Biological Diversity has described the bill as a “climate suicide pact.”

Meanwhile, at the insistence of Sinema, Democrats agreed to drop a proposal to raise taxes on private equity and hedge fund firms. The bill will also allow Medicare to begin negotiating for some prescription drugs, which could lower prices for millions, but during negotiations over the bill Senate Republicans blocked an effort to place a $35 monthly cap on insulin for most Americans.

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