WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided Congress gave final approval Friday to Democrats' flagship climate and health care bill, handing President Joe Biden a back-from-the-dead triumph on coveted priorities that the party hopes will bolster their prospects for keeping their hold on Congress in November's elections.
The House used a party-line 220-207 vote to pass the legislation, which is but a shadow of the larger, more ambitious plan to supercharge environment and social programs that Biden and his party envisioned early last year. Even so, Democrats happily declared victory on top-tier goals like providing Congress' largest ever investment in curbing carbon emissions, reining in pharmaceutical costs and taxing large companies, a vote they believe will show they can wring accomplishments from a routinely gridlocked Washington that often disillusions voters.
"Today is a day of celebration, a day we take another giant step in our momentous agenda," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She said the measure "meets the moment, ensuring that our families thrive and that our planet survives."
Republicans solidly opposed the legislation, calling it a cornucopia of wasteful liberal daydreams that would raise taxes and families' living costs. They did the same Sunday but Senate Democrats banded together and used Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote to power the measure through that 50-50 chamber.
"Democrats, more than any other majority in history, are addicted to spending other people's money, regardless of what we as a country can afford," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. "I can almost see glee in their eyes."
Biden's initial 10-year, $3.5 trillion proposal also envisioned free prekindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and eased immigration restrictions. That crashed after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said it was too costly, using the leverage every Democrat has in the evenly-divided Senate.
Still, the final legislation remained substantive. Its pillar is about $375 billion over 10 years to encourage industry and consumers to shift from carbon-emitting to cleaner forms of energy. That includes $4 billion to cope with the West's catastrophic drought.
Spending, tax credits and loans would bolster technology like solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emission-reducing equipment for coal- and gas-powered power plants and air pollution controls for farms, ports and low-income communities.
Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums over the next three years for privately bought health insurance. Medicare would gain the power to negotiate its costs for pharmaceuticals, initially in 2026 for only 10 drugs. Medicare beneficiaries' out-of-pocket prescription costs would be limited to $2,000 starting in 2025, and beginning next year would pay no more than $35 monthly for insulin, the costly diabetes drug.
The bill would raise around $740 billion in revenue over the decade, over a third from government savings from lower drug prices. More would flow from higher taxes on some $1 billion corporations, levies on companies that repurchase their own stock and stronger IRS tax collections. About $300 billion would remain to defray budget deficits, a sliver of the period's projected $16 trillion total.
Read the full story:
What's in Democrats' big bill? Climate, health care, deficit reduction
What's in the 'Inflation Reduction Act'?
Lower prescription drug costs
Help paying for health insurance
'Single biggest investment in climate change in U.S. history'
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is rolling out his party's Trump-like midterm election agenda. The GOP leader appeared Friday in Pennsylvania to challenge President Joe Biden and the Democrats in power. But House Republicans have a sometimes spotty record of delivering and governing in Congress. McCarthy is in line to seize the speaker's gavel if Republicans win control of the House in November. He's trying to replicate the strategy Newt Gingrich used in 1994. The “Commitment to America” includes broad ideas for the economy, border security and social issues. But McCarthy faces challenges ahead — notably unifying the GOP's different factions. Democrats say the “true details” of the Republican agenda are “frightening.”
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The CIA has revealed the scale model of the safe house where it found and killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri in Afghanistan. The model is now on display at the CIA Museum, newly refurbished for the agency's 75th anniversary. Intelligence officials used the model to brief President Joe Biden in the White House Situation Room in July. The house shows several balconies, which officials used to show Biden where and how al-Zawahri liked to sit. The museum is not open to the public and generally restricted to agency employees and guests, but it allowed journalists in on Saturday to see its newest exhibits.
The tide of international opinion appears to have decisively shifted against Russia, as a number of non-aligned countries joined the United States and its allies in condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine and its threats to the principles of the international rules-based order. In what many believed earlier this year was Western wishful thinking, much of the international community spoke out against the conflict in rare displays of unity at the often fractured United Nations. The coalescing condemnation picked up steam when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization of an additional 300,000 troops to Ukraine, signaling the unlikelihood of a quick end to the war and suggested nuclear weapons may be an option.
A party with neo-fascist roots has won the most votes in Italy’s national election, setting the stage for talks to form the country’s first far right-led government since World War II, with Giorgia Meloni at the helm as Italy’s first female premier. Near-final results show Meloni's Brothers of Italy, swept the election. The country's lurch to the far right immediately shifts Europe’s geopolitical reality, placing a euroskeptic party in a position to lead a founding member of the European Union and its third-largest economy. Europe’s right-wing party leaders immediately hailed Meloni’s victory and her party’s meteoric rise as sending a historic message to Brussels. Italy’s left warned of “dark days” ahead and vowed to keep Italy in the heart of Europe.
A young man shot a Russian military commander at close range at an enlistment office Monday. It was an unusually bold attack reflecting growing resistance to Russian President Vladimir Putin's efforts to mobilize hundreds of thousands of more men to wage war on Ukraine. The shooting comes after scattered arson attacks on enlistment offices and protests in Russian cities that resulted in at least 2,000 arrests. Russia is seeking to bolster its military as its Ukraine offensive has bogged down. Concerns are growing that Russia may escalate the conflict — including potentially using nuclear weapons. Votes were being held, meanwhile, in four occupied Ukraine regions about joining up with Russia. Britain's Foreign Secretary called the votes “sham referendums held at the barrel of a gun.”