It took 18 months of negotiations and a marathon night of debates to get there.
STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP
Joe Biden’s plan for climate and health adopted in the Senate thanks to in Kamala Harris
The US Senate adopted Joe Biden’s big plan on climate and health this Sunday, August 7, offering a significant step victory to the president, with less than 100 days of crucial elections.
By their votes alone, Democrats have approved this more than $430 billion plan, which will return next week to the House of Representatives for a final vote, before being signed into law by Joe Biden. The 50 Democrats were for, the 50 Republicans against, so it was Kamala Harris, Vice-President of the Senate, who intervened to break this tie.
“The road has been long, difficult and winding” , underlined the leader of the Senate Democrats Chuck Schumer, just before the vote, was greeted by thunderous applause in his camp. It took 18 months of negotiations and a marathon night of debates to get there.
“A lot of compromises had to be made. Doing important things almost always requires it, ”, Joe Biden said in a statement, urging the House of Representatives to pass the text. without waiting.
The result of difficult compromises with the right wing of the Democratic Party, this envelope includes the largest investment ever committed in the United States for the climate – 370 billion dollars to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.
With this reform, an American will receive up to 7,500 dollars in tax credits for the purchase of a electric car. The installation of solar panels on its roof will be covered at 30%.
This reform should also make it possible to strengthen the resilience of forests in the face of the monster fires that are ravaging the American West and whose multiplication has been directly attributed to global warming.
Several billion dollars in tax credits will also be offered to the most polluting industries to assist them in their energy transition, a measure strongly criticized by the left wing of the party, which had to line up behind this text, failing to reach a more ambitious agreement after long months of negotiations.
Came to power with immense reform projects, Joe Biden saw them be buried, resurrected, then buried again by a very moderate senator from his camp, Joe Manchin. In view of the very thin Democratic majority in the Senate, the elected representative of West Virginia, a state known for its coal mines, has virtually a right of veto over his projects.
At the end of July, the leader of the Senate Democrats finally succeeded in wresting a compromise from Manchin.
On Saturday, the senators finally began to debate the text in the hemicycle. In the evening, they entered a marathon procedure dubbed “vote-a-rama”, during which the elected officials, many of whom are elderly, for fifteen hours in a row proposed dozens of amendments and demanded a vote on each one.
The opportunity for the Republican opposition, which considers the Biden plan too expensive and the Democratic left wing, which would like it more ambitious, to present their grievances. Influential left-wing senator Bernie Sanders presented several amendments during the night intended to strengthen the social aspect of the text, which in recent months has been considerably trimmed.
The text provides for 64 billion dollars of investment in health and the gradual reduction in the price of certain drugs, which can be up to ten times more expensive than in other rich countries.
But the progressives had to abandon their ambitions of free public kindergartens and universities and better care for the elderly. “Millions of retirees will continue to have rotten teeth and not to receive the dentures, hearing aids or glasses they deserve “, criticized Sanders from the hemicycle. “This bill does nothing to solve this problem”, assured the former presidential candidate.
But the Democratic camp, anxious to implement this plan before the perilous legislative elections in November and offer a victory for a president with anemic popularity rating, united and rejected the vast majority of the amendments.
In parallel with these massive investments, the bill intends to reduce the public deficit with a new minimum tax of 15% for all companies whose profits exceed $1 billion. It aims to prevent certain large companies from using the tax loopholes which have allowed them to pay far less than the theoretical rate. It is estimated that this measure could generate more than $258 billion in US federal revenue over the next 10 years.