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Biden Touts Senate Spending Deal As Key to ‘Facing Up’ to Inflation, Climate Change | Politics

President Joe Biden celebrated a major breakthrough in Senate negotiations during remarks on Thursday, touting the “historic agreement” that he said faces up to some of the nation’s biggest problems – and brings him one step closer to seeing his agenda realized.

“I know it can sometimes seem like nothing is done in Washington,” Biden said. “The work of the government can be slow and frustrating – and sometimes even infuriating. Then the hard work of hours and days and months from people who refuse to give up pays off. History is made. Lives are changed.”

The president’s address comes after a major development on Wednesday evening, when Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced he had reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York on a spending package that includes provisions to tackle inflation, prescription drug prices, corporate taxes, energy costs and climate change – components central to the Biden administration’s agenda that have for months faced setbacks and been stalled.

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Manchin said in a statement Wednesday that debate over congressional spending had for too long been “defined by how it can help advance Democrats’ political agenda called Build Back Better,” in reference to the massive spending bill Biden has been seeking until it was derailed by Manchin’s own lack of support late last year.

“Build Back Better is dead,” Manchin said, “and instead we have the opportunity to make our country stronger by bringing Americans together.”

On Thursday, Biden chuckled at what he noted was a similarity between his original plan and the new agreement, but the president praised senators on their efforts to reach an agreement on the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, components of which he said are a “big deal” and a “godsend” for American families.

The legislation is billed as one that would combat inflation by reducing the deficit by around $300 billion, in addition to allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and continue expansions to the Affordable Care Act. It would also raise taxes for families making more than $400,000 annually and for large corporations, which would pay for the other components of the legislation in full, Manchin and Schumer said. The new agreement would also invest more than $300 billion in domestic energy production and manufacturing and climate change programs, with an aim to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. That environmental piece was perhaps the agreement’s most shocking get, analysts have noted, after Manchin opposed climate components of a reconciliation bill just weeks earlier.

“Let me be clear: This bill would be the most significant legislation in history to tackle the climate crisis and improve our energy security right away,” Biden said.

While the agreement is still only a fraction of what Democrats had originally vied for, Manchin’s support means that Democrats may now turn their attention to another holdout – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Arizona Democrat who has previously opposed certain tax provisions that are part of the new agreement. The filibuster-proof legislation requires the support of all 50 Democratic senators to pass, with Vice President Kamala Harris available to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Biden acknowledged that the agreement doesn’t include everything he’s been pushing for since taking office, but he said it’s a compromise, explaining that that’s “often how progress is made.”

His message to Congress, as the Senate makes plans to move the legislation forward next week, was clear: “This is the strongest bill you can pass to lower inflation, cut the deficit, reduce health care costs, tackle the climate crisis and promote energy security, all the time while reducing the burdens facing working-class and middle-class families,” Biden said.

“So pass it,” the president said. “Pass it for the American people. Pass it for America.”

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