US Senate set to pass Biden's big climate plan

US Senate set to pass Biden's grand plan on the climate


After 18 months of negotiations and a marathon night of debates, the US Senate seemed poised to approve Joe Biden's grand plan on climate and health on Sunday, and thus deliver a victory for step to the president, less than 100 days from crucial elections. 

“I think it's going to pass,” the Democratic president told reporters on Sunday morning of the more than $430 billion investment plan.

Democrats have a narrow majority in the Senate and only need their votes to adopt the text. If approved, the bill will then return to the Democratic-majority House of Representatives on Friday for a final vote, before being signed into law by Joe Biden.

The result of difficult compromises with the right wing of the Democratic Party, this envelope includes the largest investment ever committed in the United States for the climate – 370 billion dollars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% of by 2030.

With this reform, an American would receive up to $7,500 in tax credits for the purchase of an electric car. The installation of solar panels on its roof would be covered at 30%.

This envelope should also make it possible to strengthen the resilience of forests in the face of the monster fires that are ravaging the American West and whose multiplication has been directly attributed to global warming.

Several billion dollars in credits for tax will also be proposed to the most polluting industries in order to assist them in their energy transition, a measure strongly criticized by the left wing of the party, which had to line up behind this text, failing to reach a more ambitious agreement after long months of negotiations.

Coming to power with immense ambitions for reform, Joe Biden saw them be buried, resurrected, then buried again by a very moderate senator from his camp, Joe Manchin. In view of the very thin Democratic majority in the Senate, the elected representative of West Virginia has virtually a right of veto on his projects.

At the end of July, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate Chuck Schumer finally succeeded in wresting a compromise from Mr. Manchin, known for his coal mines. On Saturday, the senators finally began to debate the text in the hemicycle.

In the evening, the elected officials entered a marathon procedure called “vote-a-rama”, during which they can propose dozens of amendments and demand a vote on each.

The opportunity for the Republican opposition, which considers the Biden plan too expensive and the Democratic left wing, which would like it more ambitious, to present their grievances.

Influential left-wing senator Bernie Sanders proposed several amendments during the night intended to strengthen the social aspect of the text, which in recent months has been considerably trimmed.

As it stands, the text provides 64 billion dollars of investment in health and the gradual reduction in the price of certain drugs, which can be up to ten times more expensive than in other rich countries. But progressives had to abandon their ambitions of free public kindergartens and universities and better care for the elderly.

“Millions of pensioners will continue to have rotten teeth and not to receive the dentures, hearing aids or glasses they deserve,” criticized Mr. Sanders from the hemicycle. “This bill does nothing to solve this problem,” assured the former presidential candidate.

But the Democratic camp, anxious to implement this plan before the perilous legislative elections in November , joined forces and rejected any modification of the text.

In parallel with these massive investments, the bill intends to reduce the public deficit with a new minimum tax of 15% for all companies whose profits exceed the billion dollars. It aims to prevent certain large corporations from using the tax loopholes which until now allowed them to pay much less than the theoretical rate.

According to estimates, this measure could generate more than 258 billion dollars in revenue for the US federal state over the next 10 years.