Sanders says Senate bill is ‘nowhere near’ as Democrats and GOP table its amendments

After his amendments to expand Medicare and eliminate handouts to the fossil fuel industry were defeated in near-unanimous votes by Democrats and Republicans, Sen. Bernie Sanders backed final passage on Sunday. of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, but said it is “going nowhere”. far enough to solve the problems faced by struggling working families. »

Sanders, the chairman of the Senate budget committee, proposed amendments that would have removed the oil and gas documents from the reconciliation bill; added Medicare dental, hearing, and vision coverage; created a civilian Conservation Corps; strengthened the drug pricing provisions of the measure; relaunched the expanded child tax credit; and increased the corporate tax rate.

“The most important part of this bill is an unprecedented $300 billion investment in clean energy and energy efficiency.”

The Vermont senator was the only one to vote for all but one of his amendments; Sens Raphael Warnock (R-Ga.) and Jon Ossoff (R-Ga.) supported the proposal to extend health insurance.

Despite his concerns and warnings about the bill, which was repeatedly weakened In the days leading up to Sunday’s vote, Sanders said in a statement after voting yes on the final package that “it’s a step forward” and that he “was happy to support it.”

“At a time when we are facing the existential crisis of climate change, the most important part of this bill is an unprecedented $300 billion investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, including a $7 billion solar rooftop proposal that I submitted,” Sanders said. “This bill could help increase US solar power by 500% and more than double wind power by 2035. That’s a big deal.”

“This bill also begins the work of making the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes by imposing a minimum 15% corporate tax,” the senator continued. “It also gives the IRS the resources it needs to pursue an estimated $1 trillion in unpaid taxes from the wealthiest people in this country, and will help ordinary workers get their returns faster.”

“This legislation also takes a small step in the fight against exorbitant prescription drug prices,” he continued. “Finally, we’re giving Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices directly with manufacturers on behalf of beneficiaries. Unfortunately, this provision doesn’t go into effect until 2026 and starts with just ten drugs.”

The bill is expected to pass the House this week, securing a legislative victory for the Democratic Party after a year and a half of negotiations that have repeatedly been derailed by the senses. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), corporate-funded lawmakers who were able to dictate the scope of the final package.

Manchin handed out large grants to fossil fuel giants, which helped fund his campaigns, while Sinema armored the ability of the private equity industry to avoid taxes.

“Shame on Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the finish line.”

“Shame on Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who had to be dragged and kicked and screamed across the finish line, carrying water for her private equity lords all the way,” said Erica Payne, founder and president of the Patriotic Millionaires. “Thanks in large part to Sinema’s stonewalling, there is still work to be done, but the Cut Inflation Act is a monumental step in the right direction.”

The Cut Inflation Act represents a dramatic step back from the $3.5 trillion framework that Senate Democrats agreed to pursue in July 2021, when the party leadership hoped to endorse transformational climate action, enact universal preschool, making child care and housing affordable, and expanding health insurance.

It’s unclear if any House progressives will push to change the legislation before sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Sunday that House progressives “do not support new provisions in the bill that expand fossil fuel leasing.”

“However, independent analyzes show that their limit the impact will be far outweighed by the carbon emission reductions this legislation accomplishes,” Jayapal said. “We look forward to voting for this bill when it comes to the House and sending it immediately to the president’s office.”

Norman D. Briggs