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Biden Signs Inflation Reduction Act in Modest White House Ceremony

August 16, 2022 by Dan McCue
Biden Signs Inflation Reduction Act in Modest White House Ceremony
President Joe Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act. (screen grab)

WASHINGTON — Looking fresh and relaxed from a week vacationing in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, President Joe Biden returned to the White House this afternoon to sign the so-called Inflation Reduction Act and deliver on what he’s called the “final piece” of his domestic agenda.

Standing before a gathering of dignitaries and reporters in the State Dining Room of the White House, Biden recalled that his administration “began amid a dark time in America.”

“As [House Majority Whip] Jim Clyburn, [D-S.C.], once said, ‘it was a time of a once-in-a-century pandemic, devastating joblessness, and clear and present threats to democracy.’ There were doubts about America’s future itself. And yet, we have not wavered,” Biden said.

“We’ve not flinched. We’ve not given in. Instead we’ve delivered results for the American people,” he continued. “We didn’t look back. We looked forward. And today offers further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, that the future of America is bright, and that the promise of America is real and just beginning.”

The legislation the president signed Tuesday afternoon includes the most substantial federal investment in history to fight climate change — some $375 billion over the decade — and would cap out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 annually for Medicare recipients. 

It also would help an estimated 13 million Americans pay for health insurance by extending subsidies provided during the coronavirus pandemic.

The package, revived after being thought dead, by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will be paid for by new taxes on large companies and stepped-up IRS enforcement of wealthy individuals and entities, with additional funds going to reduce the federal deficit.

The House on Friday approved the measure on a party-line 220-207 vote. It passed the Senate days earlier with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie in that chamber.

On Tuesday, Biden couldn’t resist commenting on the partisan nature of the votes in the two chambers.

“The Inflation Reduction Act has many things in it that for so many years so many of us have fought to make happen,” he said. “Let’s be clear. In this historic moment the Democrats sided with the American people and every single Republican in the Congress — every single one — sided with the special interests.” 

The signing marked a dotting of the i’s and a crossing of the t’s on an extraordinarily productive time in Washington as Biden and his allies in Congress have approved several pieces of major legislation, helped bolster Ukraine in its ongoing fight against Russia, and brought Sweden and Finland into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Biden said the Inflation Reduction Act isn’t about today, “it’s about tomorrow. It’s about delivering progress and prosperity to American families. It’s about showing the American people that democracy still works in America, notwithstanding all the talk of its demise, and not just for the privileged few, but for all of us.”

Later, Biden observed that the critical duty of the president is “to defend what is best about America.” 

“That’s not hyperbole,” he said. “It’s about pursuing justice, ensuring fairness and delivering results that create possibilities — the possibility that all of us can live a life of consequence.

“That’s the job and that’s the pledge that guides me every single hour of every single day on the job,” Biden continued. “Presidents should not be judged by their words, they should be judged by their deeds. We shouldn’t be judged by our rhetoric, but by our actions, not by our promises, but by reality.

“Today is part of an extraordinary story that has been written by this administration and our brave allies in the Congress,” he said. “This law, this law that I’m about to sign, finally delivers on a promise that Washington has made for decades to the American people.” 

The White House plans to hold a larger celebration of the passage of the legislation on Sept. 6, once lawmakers return to Washington from their summer break.

The administration also announced Monday that it was going to deploy Biden and members of his cabinet on a Building a Better America Tour to promote its recent legislative victories. 

“In the coming weeks, the president will host a cabinet meeting focused on implementing the Inflation Reduction Act, will travel across the country to highlight how the bill will help the American people, and will host an event to celebrate the enactment of the bill at the White House on Sept. 6,” the White House said in a statement.

In addition to Clyburn, Schumer and Manchin, the other officials present for the signing were Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Small Business Administration Administrator Isabel Guzman, Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Reps. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., and Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and @DanMcCue

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