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Biden signs Inflation Reduction Act into law

CNN logo CNN 8/17/2022 Maegan Vazquez

President Joe Biden signed a sweeping $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill into law at the White House on Tuesday – marking a major victory for his administration and the Democratic Party ahead of the midterm elections.

Biden said during a signing ceremony in the State Dining Room that the legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act, is “one of the most significant laws in our history.”

“With this law, the American people won and the special interests lost,” Biden told an audience of Democratic members of Congress and administration officials. “For a while people doubted whether any of that was going to happen, but we are in a season of substance.”

The bill signing is the latest celebration of a major legislative accomplishment for Biden this summer, having already held bill signings at the White House last week for a bill aimed at increasing domestic semiconductor production and increasing benefits for veterans affected by toxic burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq. Biden has also chalked up wins on several other fronts in the last few months, including a bipartisan gun reform bill, ordering the successful mission to kill al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, sending billions in aid to Ukraine to help that nation defend itself against Russia’s invasion and helping Finland and Sweden begin the process of joining NATO.

And throughout Tuesday’s White House ceremony, the President underscored the significance of what he sees as his administration’s accomplishments – despite being written off when past negotiations for his legislative agenda failed.

“Today, too often do we confuse noise with substance. Too often we confuse setbacks with defeat. Too often we hand the biggest microphones to the critics and the cynics who delight in declaring failure while those committed to making real progress do the hard work of governing,” the President told the audience. “Making progress in this country, as big and complicated as ours, clearly, is not easy. It’s never been easy. But with unwavering conviction, commitment and patience, progress does come.”

The act accomplishes several key Biden legislative agenda items, representing the largest climate investment in American history and making major changes to health policy by giving Medicare the power for the first time to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs and extending expiring health care subsidies for three years. The legislation will reduce the deficit, be paid for through new taxes – including a 15% minimum tax on large corporations and a 1% tax on stock buybacks – and boost the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to collect.

It will raise over $700 billion in government revenue over 10 years and spend over $430 billion to reduce carbon emissions and extend subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and use the rest of the new revenue to reduce the deficit.

Biden, in his remarks, offered a blistering criticism of congressional Republicans for voting against the bill, turning their opposition into a call to action at the polls.

He underscored that “every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill.”

“Every single Republican in Congress voted against lowering prescription drug prices, against lowering health care costs, against the fair tax system. Every single Republican – every single one – voted against tackling the climate crisis, against lowering our energy costs, against creating good paying jobs. My fellow Americans, that’s the choice we face – we can protect the already powerful or show the courage to build a future where everybody has an even shot,” he continued.

A series of events focused on the rollout of the new law is expected to take place in the coming weeks. The White House says Biden will soon host a Cabinet meeting focused on the law’s implementation, travel around the country to highlight the bill’s impact on Americans and take part in a post-Labor Day White House celebration focused on the enactment of the bill.

Senate Democrats had long hoped to pass a signature legislative package that would incorporate major agenda items for the party, but struggled for months to reach a deal that gained full support of their caucus.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin – a major holdout throughout much of Biden’s term in office – played a key role in the legislation, agreeing to a deal that was announced at the end of last month. Schumer and Manchin attended Tuesday’s signing ceremony at the White House.

Biden credited Schumer for the bill’s passage and in a sign of thanks, handed Manchin his pen after signing the bill into law.

Manchin later outlined the long, bumpy road to Tuesday’s bill signing, giving Biden “all the credit” for allowing the process to play out on Capitol Hill.

“He knew enough, being a former senator. Sometimes you just gotta let us do what we got to do, and I gave him all the credit for that, and you don’t do something this of this magnitude with him – with the President of the United States – not having involvement on what’s going on,” Manchin told reporters following the bill signing.

Manchin also pushed back against a Congressional Budget Office analysis that concluded the new law would have little to no effect on inflation in the short term, telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that “they haven’t always been always right” and that the new law “basically puts confidence in the market.”

And he also acknowledged it may take time for Americans to feel the effect of the law, surmising that there may be visible progress in “a year or two or three years … but it’s not going to happen in the next two, three, four months.”

The West Virginia Democrat also addressed Republicans in Congress, blaming what he said were “politics of the day” for their opposition to the bill.

The bill passed in the Senate earlier this month after 16 hours of amendment votes – known as a vote-a-rama – and the House of Representatives approved the bill along party lines this past Friday.

The bill Biden signed on Tuesday does not include several provisions that had been previously proposed as part of the President’s plan, including paid family and sick leave, universal pre-kindergarten, an extension of the enhanced child tax credit, as well as provisions to lower the cost of college.

The key legislative victory comes as the White House plans a major speech for Biden after Labor Day, which is being billed as a hard-hitting kick off for midterm campaigning.

Aides are preparing a speech in which the President will tout tangible, long-talked-about wins like lowering prescription drug costs and gun restrictions while hammering Republicans for being extremists who are in the pocket of special interests.

Democrats are fighting to maintain their narrow majorities in Congress. And it’s not entirely clear whether voters perceptions about the President or his party will improve in the fall following a summer of dismal polling.

A CNN poll released in late July, for example, found that 75% of Democratic voters want their party to nominate someone other than Biden to the presidency in 2024.

Now, the White House is aiming to make the most of a string of wins – including the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act – as part of a rush to reset his image ahead of the November elections.

Biden on Tuesday appeared to make a campaign pitch focused on his optimism about the future of the country, arguing that he’s been able to deliver long-sought progress to the American people.

“To me, the critical duty of the presidency is to defend what is best about America. … To pursue justice, to ensure fairness and deliver results that create possibilities that all of us can live a life of consequence and prosperity in a nation that’s safe and secure. That’s the job. Fulfilling that pledge to you guides me every single hour of every single day on this job,” Biden said at the signing ceremony.

American presidents, he added, “should be judged, not only by our words but by our deeds, not by our rhetoric but by our actions, not by our promise but by reality. And today is part of an extraordinary story that’s being written by this administration and our brave allies in the Congress.”

This story has been updated with additional developments on Tuesday.

CNN’s Alex Rogers, Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav, Manu Raju and Edward-Isaac Dovere contributed to this report.

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