DAfter a long struggle, US President Joe Biden’s Democrats have finally reached agreement on a package of laws to protect the climate and lower healthcare costs. The influential Senator Joe Manchin from the conservative wing of the Democrats, who had long blocked Biden’s agenda, surprisingly expressed his support for a negotiated bill on Wednesday.
Biden welcomed the agreement between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, saying the bill would be “historic” if passed. The “2022 Inflation Reduction Act” will reduce the cost of prescription drugs and health insurance, provide new means to fight climate change, make energy cheaper and create thousands of new jobs. At the same time, the deficit will be reduced through higher taxes for large corporations .
Law would be a major win for Biden
Many details of the agreement initially remained unclear. The news channel CNN reported that the law provides for 369 billion dollars (around 363 billion euros) in investments for energy and climate change programs. According to Biden’s statement, the state health insurance company Medicare should be given the right to negotiate the prices of certain drugs with the pharmaceutical industry, which should lead to lower prices.
Should the law actually pass Congress, it would be a huge success for Biden, whose ambitious reform agenda has so far failed in many areas due to resistance from the opposition Republicans, but also from opposition from Manchin. Passing it in the Senate and House of Representatives would also give the Democrats important tailwind for the midterm congressional elections in November, in which the party threatens to lose its majorities in both houses.
Last year, Manchin almost single-handedly stopped the president’s climate protection and social package worth billions. Just a few weeks ago, the senator, who has close ties to the coal industry, once again made his opposition to funding in the fight against global warming clear.
He said in justification that the government should not continue to fuel the high inflation by spending additional billions. On Wednesday, the 74-year-old said the compromise that has now been found will lower inflation.
Given the extremely tight majority in the Senate, Manchin can block Biden’s reform plans. Democrats and Republicans each have 50 senators, and Vice President Kamala Harris, in her role as Senate President, casts her vote in stalemate situations. This means that without the help of Republican senators, all Democrats must vote unanimously for a law to pass. This gives Manchin extremely great bargaining power.