The bill passed the Senate on a 51 to 50 vote on Sunday with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi could not afford more than a few defections with the slim Democratic majority in the House. Given the high stakes, Biden personally called lawmakers to ensure support in the House throughout the week, a White House official said.
In the end, Democrats voted unanimously for the bill even though the spending is far less than the $10 trillion measure progressives like New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez initially pushed. It also doesn’t raise the $10,000 limit on the deduction for state and local tax, or SALT, which moderates from high-tax states demanded.
In the end the bill spends about $437 billion on climate, health subsidies and drought relief while raising about $740 billion in revenue over ten years. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated an earlier version of the bill cuts deficits over ten years by $102 billion, a figure that rises to $300 billion when revenue from expanded tax audits is factored in.
Whether the bill helps Democrats retain their House majority remains to be seen. The party hopes its core voters are mobilized by the largest climate change bill in US history while seniors cheer the coming of lower drug costs.
“I’ve been prepared to win the midterms all along. It depends on getting out the vote. This probably could be helpful. I don’t know,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week. “But I do know it will be helpful to America’s working families and that’s our purpose.”