House Democrats easily passed the Inflation Reduction Act Friday, a historic climate package that will also lower certain health care costs.
The bill passed on partisan lines, with every Democrat voting for it and every Republican voting against it (four Republicans didn’t vote at all).
Democrats broke into cheers and embraced each other as the yes-vote tally passed the 216 needed for passage.
Passage was all but assured after a few Democrats representing high-tax states conceded to support the bill, despite previously vowing to oppose legislation that didn’t lift the cap on local and state tax deductions. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) used his “magic minute” to delay passage by nearly an hour while giving a meandering speech on everything from border security to school board meetings.
The bill will now sail to President Joe Biden’s desk, a stunning salvaging of parts of his Build Back Better agenda, which seemed utterly dead just weeks ago.
Democrats are already incorporating the legislation into their midterm pitches, as the House returned from recess Friday to pass the bill. Many members voted by proxy, and lawmakers reeled off the votes of their absent colleagues.
Republicans are still hoping to sabotage the bill even after passage, per Axios. Republicans are hoping that by having many of their members vote by proxy, it’ll open the legislation to a constitutional challenge on the grounds that there wasn’t a proper quorum to pass it. The Supreme Court declined to hear a different McCarthy challenge to proxy voting earlier this year, and the House has passed a resolution asserting that proxy votes count towards the quorum.
“Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have clearly ruled that the House resolution establishing proxy voting is a legislative act that is covered by Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted. “This is utterly pointless theatrics from a party caught in a toxic MAGA echo chamber and struggling to explain its defense of wealthy tax cheats and Big Pharma profits to the public.”
Republicans’ False IRS Claims
During the hours of debate ahead of the vote, many Republicans coalesced behind the same (false) talking point: that the bill will mean the employment of 87,000 new, armed IRS agents who will target middle-income families.
The 87,000 number comes from a 2021 Treasury Department report, specific to previous legislation, which estimated that funding from the Biden administration would allow the hiring of 86,852 full-time IRS employees by 2031.
Despite the Republican spin, not all of those employees will be working in enforcement, but will be spread across various departments. The IRS has been hollowed out and is struggling to shoulder its workload. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also directed the agency this week not to increase its audit rate on households making less than $400,000 a year.
There was much back and forth between House members on the non-issue. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) first made the false claim, at high volume.
A chuckling Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) called it a “totally fabricated number.” “And that they’re armed?” he began.
“I know that Ms. Boebert would like everybody to be armed, as they are in her restaurant, but that’s not what IRS agents do,” he quipped.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, sent out a statement responding to the claims Friday morning.
“Given the social media chatter we’re already seeing, it’s all too easy to imagine individuals using these conspiracy theories as justification for violence against public servants and their families,” he said. “It’s unbelievable that we even need to say this, but there are not going to be 87,000 armed IRS agents going door-to-door with assault weapons.”