The U.S. Senate on Sunday passed an enormous legislative package aimed at reducing the federal deficit, authorize negotiations to lower prescription drug costs, and inject the largest amount of funds into clean energy and the fight against climate change in U.S. History.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 emerged as an amended version of the Build Back Better Act of 2022, a centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda long trapped in legislative limbo since last year due to objections from Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, along with the entire Republican caucus in the Senate.
The bill passed the Senate on Sunday despite objection from the Republican side, including both of Alabama’s senators, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote after hours of debate.
“Democrats have once again put their own agenda ahead of helping hardworking Americans,” said Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, in a statement issued following the passage of the bill. “This latest tax and spend spree will further increase inflation and raise taxes on families at a time when they can least afford it. I worked with my Republican colleagues to offer commonsense amendments to this package that would cut taxes, slash regulations, stand up to China, and bolster our national security. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats shot down these proposals and forced through a bill that does nothing to improve or grow our economy. Instead, their bill provides funding for their Green New Deal policies, sends American businesses overseas, and doubles the size of the IRS, giving the agency more manpower to go after small business and the middle class.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, who is also the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, offered an amendment to the Inflation Reduction Act during deliberations that would have required the Secretary of the Interior to complete certain pending Lease by Application processes for both metallurgical and thermal coal after enactment of the bill.
Shelby said in a statement prior to the final floor vote that this amendment intended to “unleash domestic energy sources and lower infrastructure costs in light of the nation’s poor economic conditions.” The amendment failed to reach a simple majority in favor and was rejected.
“The so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ will result in increased costs for hardworking Americans, further crushing families’ budgets and savings,” Shelby said in a statement issued following the bill’s passage. “Democrats are spending $870 billion to raise taxes and swell the cost of living while the American people are enduring record-high inflation and a declining economy. This makes no sense. Right now, Congress should be focused on reducing costs and growing economic investment, not spending $80 billion to double the size and scope of the IRS and hundreds of billions of dollars to combat climate change. The policies created in this legislation are not what Americans want, nor are they what Americans need. I am disappointed that my Senate Democratic colleagues supported this legislation, knowing it fails the American people.”
The House of Representatives is expected to begin deliberations on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 at the end of this week, with enactment of the package possible within the month.