The bill is “a start to, not the culmination of, our work to reduce global warming pollution and ensure clean air, clean water, and the preservation of open spaces,” said one climate campaigner.
Economic and climate justice groups on Tuesday applauded as U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, with advocates hailing the $740 billion investment in climate action, corporate tax reform, and healthcare as “landmark legislation” while they pledged to continue working to secure more ambitious reforms.
“It’s law,” Biden said as he signed the IRA, which includes a historic investment of $370 billion to expand renewable energy infrastructure, caps prescription drug costs for senior citizens, and pays for badly needed reforms by raising taxes on corporations.
As the bill was signed more than a year after Biden’s original proposal for the Build Back Better Act, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said the IRA “is a reminder that we must never stop fighting to address the climate crisis—because our planet and future is at stake.”
The Inflation Reduction Act is now ✨officially✨ law!
The IRA will benefit our communities with the biggest investment in climate action. Today’s signing is a reminder that we must never stop fighting to address the climate crisis — because our planet & future is at stake.
— Congresswoman Cori Bush (@RepCori) August 16, 2022
“This bill is the biggest step forward on climate ever,” Biden told the crowd gathered at the White House for the signing.
“More attention is still needed to address provisions included in the bill that could perpetuate harms communities face from fossil fuel pollution.”
Lisa Frank of Environment America’s Washington legislative office applauded the president and the Democratic Party for taking a “huge step” toward reducing U.S. carbon emissions.
The law is “a start to, not the culmination of, our work to reduce global warming pollution and ensure clean air, clean water, and the preservation of open spaces,” said Frank.
Union of Concerned Scientists president Johanna Chao Kreilick said that by offering tax credits and rebates for the use of renewable energy sources and creating an estimated nine million jobs over the next decade, the IRA “marks a win for future generations who deserve our best efforts to secure a safer and healthier world.”
“More attention is still needed to address provisions included in the bill that could perpetuate harms communities face from fossil fuel pollution,” she added. “The administration must follow up today’s signing with strong environmental and public health rules that will help speed the transition to clean energy and reduce pollution that especially harms Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities.”
“Today’s bill signing marks a success—one that we must build on in the months and years to come,” Kreilick said.
Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, called the law “a forced compromise between corporate oil lobbyists and young people who are fighting for a livable future,” noting the IRA’s continuation of oil and gas lease sales “is unacceptable, and will hurt the predominantly Black, Brown, and poor communities on the frontlines of extraction.”
The group—led by young climate activists—also gave credit to campaigners who have pushed the Democratic Party to embrace the Green New Deal and adopt ambitious climate action.
“Today, it’s clear that young people have organized the impossible into existence,” Prakash said, noting that activists and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) sat in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “in 2018 to make climate action a political priority.”
“We pushed until 23 out of 25 Democratic presidential candidates endorsed the Green New Deal—and until they understood climate and jobs were inextricably tied,” she continued. “We helped inspire record youth turnout after helping Biden write a more ambitious climate plan. And in 2021, we never let lawmakers forget they had an obligation to deliver climate legislation.”
“Simply put, the movement for a Green New Deal created the conditions to make Biden’s agenda and this climate investment possible,” Prakash added. “Without the Green New Deal, there is no IRA.”
Other advocates hailed IRA provisions requiring Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, limiting out-of-pocket insulin costs to $35 per month for Medicare beneficiaries, making all adult vaccines free for program enrollees, and capping out-of-pocket prescription medication costs at $2,000 per year for Medicare Part D.
“President Biden, along with Democrats in the Senate and House, fulfilled their promises to the American people by standing firm in the face of assaults from Big Pharma and passing unprecedented reforms,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs Now. “As a result, they have changed the trajectory of drug pricing in the United States.”
“Patient advocates across the country who shared their personal experiences of the burden of high drug prices made this monumental victory possible,” Mitchell added. “We are humbled and energized by patient advocates’ power to move the will of Congress. Our work to ensure all patients can afford the medications they need will continue.”
The IRA provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs could result in lower prices for five to seven million Medicare recipients, according to the Alliance for Retired Americans.
Alliance president Robert Roach Jr. said in a statement that “this victory for older Americans is especially sweet because it shows seniors defeating the pharmaceutical industry. Fortunately, the efforts of 4.4 million alliance members and our allies overcame the efforts of the 1,600 lobbyists the pharmaceutical corporations employed in 2021.”
Richard Fiesta, the group’s executive director, added that activists “have been fighting to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for two decades. Our members first took bus trips to Canada to obtain more affordable medications as far back as 2002.”
Economic justice group Patriotic Millionaires praised the bill’s provisions imposing taxes on corporate stock buybacks and other minimum taxes on large companies, as well as increased funding to hold wealthy tax dodgers accountable.
“The vast majority of working Americans pay every cent they owe in federal taxes—it’s time for wealthy criminal tax evaders to do the same,” said Morris Pearl, chair of the group. “The American people are tired of doing their part daily to keep this country running while criminal tax evaders and corporate tax cheats pay nothing. The rich are required to pay the bare minimum back to the society responsible for their success, and the IRA will make them do just that.”
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