MIDTOWN, Manhattan — On the first weekday since the grueling all-night voting session that led to the U.S. Senate passing the Inflation Reduction Act, Sen. Charles Schumer, its main negotiator, laid out a long list of ways that he said the $430 billion measure will benefit New Yorkers.
The G.O.P., whose members all voted against the bill designed to improve the economy, health care, and the environment, called it a measure that will worsen Americans’ financial status. An analyst who’s reviewed the legislation said that it’s not everything that many Democrats had wanted, but that it achieves a lot of what it claims.
Sen. Schumer was back in New York on Monday for a victory lap after the bill’s torturous path to passage. He credited a lesson he was taught by his father, who passed away last fall, for finally getting the bill through.
“He said, ‘When you’re right, and you’re persistent, God will reward you,” Sen. Schumer said at a late morning news conference. “My dad, even we he was gone, was pushing me onward,” he added.
The Inflation Reduction Act passed strictly along party lines, with a 50-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. The legislation claims to reduce inflation, lower medical costs, and fight climate change.
Democrats have been pushing for such legislation since the election season of 2020. President Joe Biden had tried to negotiate a similar, but much larger, measure in his Build Back Better Act earlier in his tenure.
Over the last year-and-a-half, the legislation has encountered a variety of rejections, most notably and frequently by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, two Democrats who were ultimately persuaded by Schumer to get on board.
“How do you get it done?” Schumer asked rhetorically at his news conference. He held up an electronic device. “Here’s my secret weapon,” he said. “It’s called a flip phone.”
He said that he’d made sure that he was easily accessible by phone for all of his Senate colleagues, especially Democrats, whom he needed for passage of the bill.
He also said that he’d “kept The Big Apple in mind” during the fight to win passage, and he held up an actual apple, as a prop, during the news conference. He said that for people here in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut region, it will improve quality of life and improve health, while also reducing inflation and fighting climate change.
Regarding health care, Schumer said, the bill puts a $35 per month cap on Medicare insulin prices. It does not, however, cap insulin prices for people using private insurance. The Inflation Reduction Act also puts a $2,000 per year cap on all Medicare drug costs, and it allows Medicare to negotiate drug costs.
When it comes to climate change, the act provides tax credits for electric vehicles, whether new or used. It also makes a tax credit available to help pay for energy efficient appliances and wiring.
It provides a further tax credit for homes that switch to solar energy use. The act also pays for more clean vehicle charging stations, especially in underserved areas.
Deborah Brosnan, a climate and environmental scientist who’s read the bill, said in an interview that it doesn’t do all that many Democratic legislators wanted, but it does a lot for both the climate and the economy.
“Sixty billion dollars going into the development of green technologies,” Dr. Brosnan said, will reap economic benefits down the line.
“There’s going to be tax credits for companies that want to invest, as well as for homeowners,” she continued. “That is going to help the economy.”
Sen. Schumer says it will all reduce inflation and lower the federal deficit, by $300 billion.
“By reducing costs of drugs, by reducing the cost of electricity, by reducing the costs of cars, up and down the line,” he said.
Republican leaders disagreed. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said that the new legislation will hurt the economy, not help it.
“Democrats want to run through hundreds of billions of dollars in tax hikes, and hundreds of billions of dollars in reckless spending,” he said, from the Senate floor. “And for what?”
He was referring to another provision of the bill. It would fund many of the measures it hopes to achieve through a new, 15% tax on profits of corporations that make more than $1 billion annually.
The bill heads to the House of Representatives, where it has enough Democratic votes to pass. It’s expected to be signed into law by Pres. Biden later this month.