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Biden’s major climate bill passes Senate

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The US Senate has passed a sweeping $US430 billion bill intended to fight climate change, lower drug prices and raise some corporate taxes, a major victory for President Joe Biden that Democrats hope will aid their chances of keeping control of Congress in this year’s elections.

After a marathon, 27-hour weekend session of debate and Republican efforts to derail the package, the Senate approved the legislation known as the Inflation Reduction Act by a 51-50 party line vote Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking ballot.

The action sends the measure to the House of Representatives for a vote, likely on Friday when representatives plan to reconvene briefly during a summer recess.

They are expected to pass it, which would then send the bill to the White House for President Biden’s signature. In a statement, Mr Biden said he looked forward to signing the bill into law.

“The Senate is making history,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after pumping his fists in the air as Democrats cheered and their staff members responded to the vote with a standing ovation.

“To Americans who’ve lost faith that Congress can do big things, this bill is for you,” he said. “This bill is going to change America for decades.”

Senator Schumer said the legislation contained “the boldest clean energy package in American history” to fight climate change while reducing consumer costs for energy and some medicines.

Democrats have drawn harsh attacks from Republicans over the legislation’s $US430 billion ($623 billion) in new spending and roughly $US740 billion in new revenue.

Nevertheless, Democrats hope its passage will help the party’s House and Senate candidates in the November 8 midterm elections at a time when Mr Biden is suffering from anaemic public approval ratings amid high inflation.

The legislation is aimed at reducing carbon emissions and shifting consumers to green energy, while cutting prescription drug costs for the elderly and tightening enforcement on taxes for corporations and the wealthy.

Because the measure pays for itself and reduces the federal deficit over time, Democrats contend that it will help bring down inflation, an economic liability that has also weighed on their hopes of retaining legislative control in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.

Republicans, arguing that the bill will not address inflation, have denounced the measure as a job-killing, left-wing spending wish list that could undermine growth when the economy is in danger of falling into recession.

Democrats approved the bill by using a parliamentary manoeuvre called reconciliation, which allows budget-related legislation to avoid the 100-seat chamber’s 60-vote threshold for most bills and pass on a simple majority.

After several hours of debate, the Senate began a rapid-fire “vote-a-rama” on Democratic and Republican amendments on Saturday night that stretched into Sunday afternoon.

Democrats repelled more than 30 Republican amendments, points of order and motions, all intended to scupper the legislation.

Senators were due to break for an August recess after the session.

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