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US President Biden signs major climate change and health care law

Washington: US President Joe Biden signed into law a landmark tax, health, and energy bill on Tuesday that takes significant steps toward fulfilling his goal to modernize the American economy and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

The vast legislation will lower prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare, extend federal subsidies for health insurance and reduce the federal deficit. It will also help electric utilities switch to lower-emission sources of energy and encourage Americans to buy electric vehicles through tax credits.

Mr. Biden signed the bill, which Democrats call the Inflation Reduction Act, in the State Dining Room at the White House.

The Inflation Reduction Act does so many things that for so many years so many of us have fought to make happen," Biden said during remarks at the White House prior to signing the bill. The legislation was passed by both the House and Senate along partisan lines.

The House and Senate passed the bill along party lines last week, after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer struck a deal after many months of negotiations. Both senators were on hand for Tuesday's signing ceremony.

"Let me say from the start, with this law, the American people won and the special interests lost," Mr. Biden told the crowd assembled at the White House.

The bill's passage was many months in the making, and at times appeared unlikely with a 50-50 Senate and midterm elections fast approaching. It accomplishes long-held Democratic goals of lowering prescription drug costs, investing in transitions to clean energy, and reforming the nation's tax code.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the law came amid "one of the most productive stretches in Senate history," in which Democrats passed gun control, expanded care for veterans exposed to burn pits, and provided billions of dollars in subsidies to boost U.S. production of semiconductors. Schumer, too, praised the president for steering the Inflation Reduction Act across the finish line.

"I am confident this bill will endure as one of the greatest legislative feats in decades," Schumer said, adding that it was "the most important bill we have passed in a long time."

The new law provides $369 billion to fund energy and climate projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 40% in 2030, the most significant investment fight climate change ever. It will also limit out-of-pocket drug expenses for seniors on Medicare to $2,000 annually, and allow Medicare to negotiate with drugmakers on prescription prices.

The legislation sets a minimum 15% corporate tax rate for most large companies and provides $80 billion in funding to the IRS, allowing the agency to hire thousands of agents and revamp decades-old technological systems.

In the weeks ahead, the White House says the president will travel across the country to articulate how the bill will help Americans. He'll also host an event celebrating the enactment of the bill on Sept. 6.

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TAGS:US President Joe Biden 
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