Victory for Biden as his climate and health plan passes through Congress

Victory for Biden as his climate and health plan passes through Congress

The US Congress definitively adopted Joe Biden’s vast investment plan on climate and health on Friday, a significant political victory for the US president, less than three months before decisive legislative elections.

With their slim majority, Democrats in the House of Representatives pushed through the more than $430 billion plan, following a similar vote in the Senate a few days ago.

The text, which should put the country on the right path to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets, will be signed into law by Joe Biden next week, the president said in a tweet.

“Today the American people won,” Mr. Biden wrote. With this law, “families will see lower prices for drugs, health care, and energy costs.”

Welcomed by the majority of associations fighting against climate change, this reform includes 370 billion dollars dedicated to the environment, and 64 billion dollars for health.

Called the “Inflation Reduction Act”, it intends at the same time to reduce the public deficit with a new minimum tax of 15% for all companies whose profits exceed one billion dollars.

“Today is a day of celebration,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said just before the vote. This law will allow American families “to prosper, and our planet to survive.”

The Republican camp, for its part, accuses the text of generating unnecessary public expenditure, and castigates the use of the American tax authorities to finance them. Former President Donald Trump called on his Truth Social social network for all Republicans to speak out against it.

– Largest climate investment –

Coming to power with huge reform projects, Joe Biden originally pleaded for an even larger investment plan.

But the elected Democrats have gradually had to revise their ambitions downwards, in order to satisfy in particular Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a state known for its coal mines. His support was essential to pass the stage of the Senate.

The text remains despite everything the largest investment ever made in the United States for the climate.

It must make it possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. The goal set by Joe Biden is a reduction of at least 50% by this date, but other measures, in particular regulatory could partly fill the gap, according to experts.

“This law is a game-changer and a source of hope,” said Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of the “Union of Concerned Scientists”.

The measures taken will “encourage other countries to step up their commitments,” said Dan Lashof, director of the World Resources Institute in the United States, on Friday.

“By creating strong incentives to invest in solar and wind energy, (the text) will, so to speak, dry up the market for electricity produced from coal over the next decade,” he summed up this week.

Under this reform, an American will receive up to 7,500 dollars in tax credits for the purchase of an electric car. The installation of solar panels on its roof will be covered at 30%.

Investments are also planned for the development of CO2 capture, the resilience of forests to fires, and the renovation of housing for the most modest households.

Several billion dollars in tax credits will also be offered to the most polluting industries to help them in their energy transition – a measure strongly criticized by the left wing of the party, which despite everything had to line up behind this text.

– Cheaper drugs –

The second part of this major investment plan intends in part to correct the huge inequalities in access to care in the United States, in particular by lowering the price of drugs.

Medicare, a public health insurance system intended among others for those over 65, will for the first time be able to negotiate the prices of certain drugs directly with pharmaceutical companies, and thus obtain more competitive rates.

Seniors will also be guaranteed not to have to pay more than $2,000 a year for their medication, starting in 2025.

The bill also plans to extend the protections of the “Affordable Care Act”, the emblematic health insurance better known as “Obamacare”, which contained measures facilitating access to health insurance through grants to help families pay for medical coverage.

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