Senate passes inflation reduction act

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The U.S. Senate voted this week to pass big election-year economic package and, as is often the case, Ohio’s two senators voted on opposite sides of the issue.

Senators engaged in a round-the-clock marathon of voting that began Saturday and stretched late into Sunday afternoon. Democrats swatted down some three dozen Republican amendments designed to torpedo the legislation. Confronting unanimous GOP opposition, Democratic unity in the 50-50 chamber held, keeping the party on track for a morale-boosting victory three months from elections when congressional control is at stake.

The bill ran into trouble midday over objections to the new 15 percent corporate minimum tax that private equity firms and other industries disliked, forcing last-minute changes.

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Despite the momentary setback, the “Inflation Reduction Act” gives Democrats a campaign-season showcase for action on coveted goals. It includes the largest-ever federal effort on climate change — close to $400 billion — caps out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare to $2,000 a year and extends expiring subsidies that help 13 million people afford health insurance. By raising corporate taxes and reaping savings from the long-sought goal of allowing the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare, the whole package is paid for, with some $300 billion extra revenue for deficit reduction.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called the package “an historic step to fight inflation, lower costs and create jobs that corporations can’t ship overseas.”

“For the first time in years, we are standing up to three of the most powerful special interests in Washington — we’re taking on Big Pharma to lower seniors’ drug prices, we’re taking on Big Oil to lower energy prices, create Ohio jobs and grow new industries, and we’re taking on Wall Street to rein in stock buybacks that reward CEOs at the expense of workers,” Brown said.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the legislation will make inflation worse and increase taxes.

“My hope is that this misnamed Inflation Reduction Act can be stopped before it makes things worse but at least I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to look at these commonsense amendments and accept some of these amendments,” Portman said on the Senate floor, before casting his opposition vote. “Some I’ve laid out, some others have talked about tonight to improve a flawed bill. With that hope, I yield the floor.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.