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US Senate Democrats Pass Major Health, Climate, Tax Bill

After a marathon of late-night votes, the U.S. Senate passed a sweeping energy, health care, climate and tax package. The measure was passed by a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, a victory for Democrats. 

The passage marks a major victory for Democrats and President Joe Biden’s agenda. President Biden said, “Today, Senate Democrats sided with American families over special interests, voting to lower the cost of prescription drugs, health insurance, and everyday energy costs and reduce the deficit, while making the wealthiest corporations finally pay their fair share. This bill also makes the largest investment ever in combating the existential crisis of climate change.” 

According to the Pulse, the measure would “spend nearly $370 billion on clean energy programs, allow the Medicare health insurance program to negotiate some drug prices beginning in 2026, impose stiffer corporate taxes and bolster Internal Revenue Service enforcement to bring in more than $400 billion in new revenue over 10 years.”

The bill will have a profound impact on the 1.97 million North Carolinians on Medicare, lowering out-of-pocket costs for life-saving medications. According to the News & Observer, The measure would cap the out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare users at $2,000 “which would save the average Medicare Fee-for-Service user in North Carolina more than $13,000.”

The legislation also marks the biggest federal action on climate change to date and includes subsidies for purchasing electric vehicles and manufacturing alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. The final version of the bill is not as comprehensive as many climate activists would have hoped, but many are celebrating its passage as an important step forward.

Democrats in the Senate are celebrating this important victory for their constituents. However, once again North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis failed to show up for North Carolinians and voted against the bill, even rejecting an amendment to cap the price of insulin in light of skyrocketing prices that are plaguing over 12% of North Carolinians. 

Despite the efforts of Republican Senators such as Tillis and Burr, Democrats are moving forward with their efforts on key issues. 

The measure passed the House by a 220-207 vote on Aug. 12.


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