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US Senate passes Democratic bill on tax policy, health care

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-08-08 15:29

WASHINGTON - US Senate on Sunday approved the Democratic spending bill on tax policy, health care and climate change, which is scaled down from what President Joe Biden and many Democrats envisioned last year.

The so-called Inflation Reduction Act cleared the evenly-divided upper chamber by a vote of 51 to 50 along party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris presiding to break the tie.

No Republicans support the bill, but Democrats have been eager to push through their domestic policy ambitions before the mid-term elections.

Democrats used a fast-track legislative process known as reconciliation, which allowed them to pass the measure without any support from Senate Republicans.

The final vote came after hours of an amendment process that began Saturday night and stretched into Sunday afternoon. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives and is expected to get approved soon.

The bill includes a roughly 400-billion-dollar investment in fighting climate change, measures to make prescription drugs more affordable, and a 15-percent minimum tax on most corporations that make more than 1 billion dollars per year.

It is much smaller than the 3.5-trillion-dollar "Build Back Better" social spending bill Democrats initially attempted to advance last year.

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a moderate Democrat, walked away from negotiations in December due to disagreements with his Democratic colleagues, claiming that he would be reluctant to support any package with a price tag of over 1.5 trillion dollars.

Last month, a surprise announcement of an agreement between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brought the bill back to life. A revised version of the bill then garnered support from another key Democrat, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, paving the way for its final approval.

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