Ed Markey Celebrates Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., shoots a selfie video with climate activists at the Senate steps after the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act in the Capitol on Sunday, August 7, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Senate Barely Approves Scaled Back Legislation on Climate, Taxes, Healthcare

But thanks to Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), there was a huge, last-minute win for the private equity and hedge fund industries

The U.S. Senate on Sunday barely passed a $430 billion bill intended to fight climate change, lower drug prices, and raise some corporate taxes. The 51-50 party-line vote needed Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking ballot.

Thanks to Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), there was a huge, last-minute win for the private equity and hedge fund industries when Sinema forced the elimination of what would have been a $14 billion tax increase targeting private executives.

Earlier Sunday, Senate Republicans forced the removal of a Democratic proposal that would have capped insulin prices at $35 for private insurers

The legislation, while falling far short of the ambitious $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act that the House passed in November, still contains many provisions that progressives support. According to Public Citizen among its key achievements, the legislation will:

  • Empower Medicare to negotiate some drug prices for the first time.
  • Cap out-of-pocket costs for many people who need insulin.
  • Extend health care subsidies for millions of Americans.
  • Support massive investments in renewable energy, the most far-reaching measures the U.S. has ever taken to address climate chaos.
  • Force corporations to pay at least a 15% tax rate.
  • Create a 1% tax on stock buybacks

The Inflation Reduction Act now heads to the House, which is expected to return Aug. 12 to vote on the measure then send it to President Biden's desk.

Reaction from many progressive organizations came quickly after the bill's passage:

Sunrise Movement, Executive Director Varshini Prakash, released the following statement:

"This bill is a far cry from what is needed to tackle the climate crisis. It's a far cry from what President Biden committed to on the campaign trail. But the truth is, Democrats have an extremely narrow window of opportunity to take action on climate change, and if they don't pass this now, it might be years before they get another chance. We have no time to waste. The House must get this bill to Biden's desk for his signature as soon as possible.

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, issued the following statement:

"The Inflation Reduction Act is a very, very good legislative package. When enacted, it will make America a better place. Each of its key components is a major step forward and doing any one of them would be a major accomplishment. While there are serious flaws and gaps in this legislation and it is heartbreaking that some of the vital measures from the original reconciliation negotiations a year ago were dropped from this deal, on balance this bill is a huge step forward for the American people. This is a very important, very good and very progressive bill."

Mitch Jones, Food & Water Watch Managing Director of Policy, issued the following statement:

"It's no surprise that climate policy tailored to meet the demands of a coal baron would fall well short of what's needed to adequately address the severity of the climate crisis we face. The bill devotes billions to industry schemes like carbon capture, which exist solely to extend the life of the fossil fuel industry. Models touting the emissions reductions this legislation would provide rely heavily on carbon capture despite decades of evidence that the technology can't be implemented effectively. There is already abundant evidence that investing in clean, renewable energy does not, in and of itself, displace fossil fuels. Over the past decade, both have grown side-by-side, as fossil fuel interests have pushed to create profitable export markets for oil and gas. There is nothing in this legislation that would stop this march towards the climate cliff. We know that any adequate climate policy must directly confront fossil fuels. The fact that oil and gas executives seem pleased with this legislation speaks volumes about its glaring shortcomings. Activists and frontline communities will continue fighting to stop fossil fuel corporations that threaten our air, our water and a livable planet."

Ebony Twilley Martin, Greenpeace USA Co-Executive Director, issued the following statement:

"The Inflation Reduction Act includes much-needed investment in renewable energy and a down payment on the union jobs we need to propel a green economy. But it is also a slap in the face to the frontline communities, grassroots groups, and activists that made this legislation possible. The IRA is packed with giveaways to the fossil fuel executives who are destroying our planet. It sacrifices the same people who have always borne the brunt of oil, gas, and coal infrastructure and climate crisis: Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and low-income communities. Folks living on the Gulf and in the Permian Basin. People who look like me have been on Congress' expendables list for long enough. And the fight is not over. The side deal on permitting is simply a disaster. It flies in the face of both science and justice, sacrificing communities of color and driving us even further into a climate crisis. This is what happens when the industry responsible for climate change also calls the shots on climate policy. It is simply ludicrous to sign the most substantive climate deal in history only to immediately commit ourselves to decades more of the extraction that created this crisis. We can't put out this fire by pouring gasoline on the flames."

Andrew O'Neill, Associate Director for Economic Justice at Indivisible, released the following statement:

"This bill is a long time coming. Advocates and frontline communities have been calling for many of the provisions of this bill since before the current Congress was even elected, but grassroots activists and our Senate champions have finally gotten a reconciliation bill out of the chamber. Thanks to the leadership of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the bill passed cleanly, without poison pill amendments that could have jeopardized its pathway to the president's desk. This is unquestionably a victory for the American people and the future of our planet.

Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice President, issued the following statement:

"Today the Senate brought us one big step closer to landmark investments in climate solutions and community resilience that are urgently needed to address the climate crisis. The bill includes unprecedented funding for renewable energy production and storage, electrification of heavy-duty and passenger vehicles, building electrification, appliance efficiency, domestic manufacturing of clean technologies, climate-friendly farming, and forest conservation, among other essential priorities... At the same time, we know this bill includes egregious fossil fuels concessions. From mandatory lease sales to carbon capture tax subsidies, these harmful provisions threaten to entrench fossil fuel interests and perpetuate toxic pollution and ecosystem destruction in communities across the country, especially on the Gulf Coast and in Appalachia and Alaska. Earthjustice will redouble our efforts to fight alongside our clients and partners to block a new wave of fossil extraction and pollution, and we will do everything in our power to defend NEPA protections and help deploy new funding to claw back this bill's gifts to the fossil fuels industry."

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement:

"After more than a year of negotiations, we are thrilled the Senate has finally passed a reconciliation bill with every Democrat voting in support. The Inflation Reduction Act includes many pieces of the House-passed Build Back Better Act to make the largest-ever federal investment in tackling the existential threat of climate change, lower healthcare costs, and begin to ensure that corporations pay their fair share. The Congressional Progressive Caucus was essential to ensuring that the President's economic agenda was drafted and passed in the House. While we are heartbroken to see several essential pieces on the care economy, housing, and immigration left on the cutting room floor -- as well as a successful Republican effort to remove insulin price caps for those with private insurance -- we know that the Inflation Reduction Act takes real steps forward on key progressive priorities. The bill will cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030 by rapidly accelerating the adoption of renewable energy technologies such as electric vehicles, heat pumps, and solar panels, saving the average family $1,025 a year in energy costs and creating millions of good jobs. It will immediately extend affordable health insurance coverage to 13 million people, cap seniors' yearly drug costs at $2,000 per year, and cap insulin at $35 per month for seniors on Medicare. It takes on Big Pharma by, for the first time ever, allowing Medicare to begin negotiating prices for a small group of drugs that expands over time. The bill also imposes a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations, taxes corporations that inflate their share values through stock buybacks, and invests in the IRS to go after large corporations that evade taxes. As President Biden has promised, the bill won't raise taxes on any family making less than $400,000 per year. Let us be clear: we do not support the bill's new provisions that expand fossil fuel leasing. However, independent analyses show that their limited impact will be far outweighed by the carbon emissions cuts this legislation accomplishes."

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