House Set To Give Biden Big Win With $430 billion Bill On Climate, Drug Prices
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives will vote Friday on a $430 billion bill to fight climate change and lower prescription drug prices, in what Democrats view as a major political win for President Joe Biden ahead of November's midterm elections.
Democrats say the legislation will help reduce the federal deficit, cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions, allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for the elderly and ensure corporations and the wealthy pay the taxes they owe.
Titled the "Inflation Reduction Act," the measure passed the Senate along party lines on Sunday after a marathon, 27-hour session. House approval would send the bill on to the White House for Biden to sign into law.
"House Democrats will pass and send to the president the landmark Inflation Reduction Act," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the chamber's top Democrat, predicted this week in a letter to her party colleagues.
"This bill makes a tremendous difference at the kitchen table of America's families," Pelosi said.
Republicans oppose the legislation, warning that it will kill jobs by raising corporate tax bills, further fuel inflation with government spending and inhibit the development of new drugs.
The bill has been more than 18 months in the making. It represents a final version of Biden's original sweeping Build Back Better plan, which had to be whittled down in the face of opposition from Republicans and key legislators from his own party.
Democrats, who have been weighed down for months by inflation and Biden's anemic job approval numbers, hope the legislation will help them at the polls in November, when voters decide the balance of power in Congress ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Biden himself plans to travel across the country to tout the bill along with a series of other legislative victories as a win for voters and a defeat for special interests.
Republicans are favored to win a majority in the House in November and could also take control of the Senate.
But in a hopeful sign for Democrats, Biden's public approval has risen this week to its highest level since early June, as a result of recent legislative successes, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.
The two-day national poll found that 40% of Americans approve of Biden's job performance, a level of support that is historically low for a U.S. president but up from his rock-bottom level of 36% in May.
In addition to the Inflation Reduction Act, Biden has gained momentum from legislative wins aimed at boosting U.S. competitiveness against China and expanding healthcare benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.
About half of Americans -- some 49 percent -- support the climate and drug pricing legislation, including 69 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted August 3 and 4. The most popular element of the bill is giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, which 71 percent of respondents support, including 68 percent of Republicans.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)