Build Back Better Act

Floor Speech

Date: Aug. 12, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. YARMUTH. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 1316, I call up the bill (H.R. 5376) to provide for reconciliation pursuant to title II of S. Con. Res. 14, with the Senate amendment thereto, and ask for its immediate consideration.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.


Mr. YARMUTH. Mr. Speaker, I have a motion at the desk.


Mr. YARMUTH. 5376.

Mr. Speaker, the legislation before us today is a big deal for American families and a big deal for our planet.

The Inflation Reduction Act will lower healthcare costs and energy costs for American families. It will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and cap drug costs for seniors, saving many Medicare beneficiaries hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year.

This legislation finally makes the biggest corporations start paying their fair share in taxes, and it ensures that rich tax cheats start paying what they owe.

The Inflation Reduction Act is fiscally responsible, fully paid for, and has been strongly endorsed by top U.S. economists across the political spectrum.

Not one American family making less than $400,000 a year will see their Federal tax bill increased by this legislation, not by a penny.

The Inflation Reduction Act is also the biggest investment the U.S. Government has ever made to combat climate change. It leapfrogs us ahead of nearly every other country in terms of our commitment to tackling this crisis.

Now, we have seen a lot of Republicans spreading misinformation about this legislation, and it is for one reason and one reason only: They are scared. They know the provisions of this bill are overwhelmingly popular, yet because they consider it a Democratic bill, every single one of them will be voting against it. This is a crystal-clear example of Republicans putting party before country.

Just look at the numbers.

Mr. Speaker, 77 percent of Americans support placing caps on prescription drug prices to lower healthcare costs. That is a key component of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, 83 percent of Americans support allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices to make healthcare more affordable. That is another key component of this bill.

Two-thirds of Americans think the government should do more to combat climate change. This bill takes on climate change with the urgency it deserves.

By opposing this bill, Republicans are making it very clear where they stand: not with the American people, not with their priorities or needs, but with Big Pharma, with corporate lobbyists, with tax cheats.

The American people are on our side. They want this bill. Today, in a huge victory for them, we will send it to the President's desk to be signed into law.

Let me remind my Republican colleagues what they are voting against. They are voting against cutting prescription drug prices for their constituents--in many cases, for lifesaving medication. They are voting against combating inflation and lowering energy costs when American families are desperate for us to take action. They are voting against providing the largest Federal investment ever to combat the climate crisis and its life-threatening consequences.

I could not be more proud that I will not only be voting ``yes'' on this bill but that this historic legislation will bear my name.

With or without Republican support, today, we will make a real difference. We will use the power of the Federal Government to make American lives better and our country and planet safer. In other words, we will do our job.


Mr. YARMUTH. Clark), the Assistant Speaker.




Mr. YARMUTH. Maloney), the distinguished chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, as chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I rise in strong, strong support of the Inflation Reduction Act.

My committee conducted a 3-year investigation of prescription drug prices. Our findings overwhelmingly support the need for this bill's reforms to curb the drug industry's outrageous pricing practices and make prescription drugs more affordable for patients and taxpayers.

These reforms include empowering Medicare to negotiate prices for certain drugs, a step that is long overdue.

My committee's investigation into the fossil fuel industry showed that Big Oil is refusing to take adequate steps to cut emissions, even though burning fossil fuels is a primary driver of the climate crisis. This bill will finally bring down emissions from fossil fuels, helping our environment.

I am proud to have championed other provisions in the bill, including a historic investment of $3 billion to electrify the Postal Service delivery fleet. This will replace tens of thousands of gas-guzzling trucks with clean, electric vehicles, helping our environment.

Mr. Speaker, I am honored to cast my vote for the Inflation Reduction Act today.

Mr. Speaker, as Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I rise in support of the Inflation Reduction Act.

My Committee conducted a three-year investigation of prescription drug pricing. Our findings overwhelmingly support the need for this bill's reforms to curb the drug industry's outrageous pricing practices and make prescription drugs more affordable for patients and taxpayers.

These reforms include empowering Medicare to negotiate prices for certain drugs, a step that is long overdue.

My Committee's investigation into the fossil fuel industry showed that Big Oil is refusing to take adequate steps to cut emissions, even though burning fossil fuels is a primary driver of the climate crisis.

This bill will finally bring down emissions from fossil fuels.

I'm also proud to have championed other provisions in this bill, including a historic investment of $3 billion to electrify the Postal Service delivery fleet. This will replace tens of thousands of gas- guzzling trucks with clean electric vehicles.

I am honored to cast my vote for the Inflation Reduction Act today.

Mr. Speaker, I will say in response to the gentlewoman from Colorado (Mrs. Boebert) that this is typical of what the Republicans are doing.

First of all, they are making up numbers. There is nowhere anywhere that shows that 87,000 new IRS agents are going to be hired in this bill. That is a totally fabricated number. The idea that they are armed--I know that Mrs. Boebert would like everybody to be armed, as they are in her restaurant, but that is not what IRS agents do.

Mr. Speaker, I would implore my Republican colleagues to cut out the scare tactics, quit making things up, and debate the substance of this bill.

Mr. YARMUTH. Mr. Speaker, we just heard the big lie a couple more times about 87,000 IRS agents that are going to be armed. It is total bunk. Nonsense. The Republicans should stop it and tell the truth. They are continuing to say it.

I will say one thing. We were informed last week by the Commissioner of the IRS, Mr. Rettig, an appointee of former President Trump, that audits would not increase for anybody making under $400,000 a year.

Jayapal), a distinguished member of the Budget Committee.


Mr. YARMUTH. Lee), who is a distinguished member of the Budget Committee.


Mr. YARMUTH. Jackson Lee), who is a distinguished member of the Budget Committee.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I want to dispel the myths of the smoke and mirrors that are flaming up across the way with my friends.

Do they not recognize the opportunity that we have for reducing the costs of healthcare with subsidies so that working families can get the Affordable Care Act? Or excitingly, I am so delighted that there is a cap on insulin. Diabetes is raging for those on Medicare, and we are going to get those on private insurance as well.

Let's tell the truth about taxes. No taxes on those making $400,000 or less but getting the $160 billion in the top 1 percent that have refused to pay their fair share.

What is this folder?

These are letters from my county attorneys and communities about concrete batch facilities put in neighborhoods of Hispanics and African Americans by Trinity Gardens in the East End and Aldine. This legislation, $60 billion, will help save these people who have been living in their homes and losing their homes because environmental toxins like a concrete batch facility gets put in their neighborhood and creates respiratory diseases: asthma, bad grass, and parks that you can't play in.

Mr. Speaker, I support this legislation. Why?

Because it is for the working people in America.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise to wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, H.R. 5376.

I commend our Democratic colleagues in the Senate--whose tireless efforts culminated in this landmark legislation--and our Democratic Caucus in the House, whose commitment to the policies embodied in this legislation kept the prospect for progress alive and ready for action over the past year.

We persevered to extend health care benefits, limit the cost of medication, combat the climate crisis, help impoverished Americans, and reduce inflation for all Americans. We never relinquished our focus and determination to help those who are suffering from the economic aftershocks of COVID-19.

Enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act is crucial at this vital moment, as Americans need the economic relief that this bill will provide. It will boost quality-of-life for American families by reducing costs and inflation, and bolstering our national economy and competitiveness for years to come.

This legislation is truly historic because it will dramatically advance major policies and programs supported by the vast majority of Americans, and it will do so in a fiscally responsible way, applying much of the revenue raised to deficit reduction.

A key message that this legislation sends is that Congress, with Democrats at the helm, is focused on providing aid to working Americans, middle-income families, impoverished Americans, and those who most need a little help during challenging times.

This is a stark contrast from a few years ago, when Republicans in control of Congress passed bills that gave massive tax breaks to the wealthiest people and corporations, and helped the rich get richer, while tossing mere table scraps to the middle class, and barely a few crumbs to Americans suffering in poverty.

So, I'm delighted that the Inflation Reduction Act will provide urgently needed financial relief to Americans in need, reforms to address the climate crisis, and initiatives that will help our nation transition to its next era of success for all Americans.

Among the provisions that will directly benefit family finances across the country are the Inflation Reduction Act's health care reforms, initiatives, assistance, and restraints on cost increases.

For the first time after years of efforts by Democrats, Medicare will be able to negotiate with drug companies to lower the price of medications for Americans receiving Medicare. Maximum prices for 10 drugs will take effect in 2026, 15 more drugs in 2027, another 15 in 2028, and 20 more in 2029 and beyond.

Manufacturers that do not offer a price equal to or less than the maximum fair price will be subject to a civil monetary penalty of 10 times the difference between the offered price and the maximum fair price for all of its drugs sold in violation of that.

The IRA will impose rebates on drug companies that increase prices faster than inflation to limit annual increases in drug prices for people with Medicare. The inflation rebate provision will be implemented beginning in 2023, using 2021 as the base year for determining price changes relative to inflation.

Another major reform is a new $2,000 annual cap on Medicare Part D out-of-pocket spending starting in 2025. Currently, there is no limit on out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs that seniors need.

This bill ensures that devastating diagnoses, like cancer, will never again mean paying tens of thousands out-of-pocket for just one drug, which forces Medicare recipients into severe financial hardship.

The bill expands the low-income subsidy program in Medicare Part D. Currently, it is fully available to those earning less than 135 percent of the federal poverty level, and partially available to those earning less than 150 percent of that level. The bill eliminates the partial subsidy, giving those earning up to 150% of the poverty level the full low-income subsidy in Medicare Part D.

The bill initiates a major reform to help Medicare patients who need insulin and have been forced to pay exorbitant costs for their life- sustaining supply.

The Inflation Reduction Act caps out-of-pocket costs at $35 per month for insulin co-pays under Medicare programs. Cost-sharing for Part D plans will be capped at $35 for approved insulin products starting in 2023. After 2025, the price will be the lesser of $35, 25 percent of the maximum fair price, or 25 percent of the negotiated price. From January to March 2023, there will be temporary subsidies for any cost sharing over $35 per month.

While I am delighted that H.R. 5376 imposes a $35 per month cap on the price of insulin for people covered by Medicare, this cap should have extended to Americans with private insurance.

I was very upset that Senate Republicans rejected that policy, as it is immoral to side with drug companies that force people to choose between life-sustaining insulin and other daily needs. Some Americans have died because they couldn't afford their insulin, which is subject to unjustifiable pricing practices.

This bill should have ensured that Americans with private health insurance would benefit from a $35 per month cap on their insulin costs, and I will continue the fight for this reform.

The Inflation Reduction Act lowers health insurance premiums for nearly 13 million low- and middle-income Americans whose coverage is from the Affordable Care Act. The bill allocates $64 billion to extend tax credits for three years, through 2025.

Recipients saved on average $800 in 2021. Monthly premiums were estimated to decrease by $50 per person on average in 2022, and 80 percent of ACA enrollees with the tax credits were able to find a plan that amounted to $10 or less per month.

This is extremely important because extension of these credits subsidizing the cost of health insurance will prevent 3 million people from becoming uninsured due to steep premium hikes, protecting them from financial hardship, and saving the health care system from the perilous costs of uncompensated care.

I was dismayed that Senator Warnock's amendment extending Medicaid expansion to 2.2 million people living in poverty in 12 states was not adopted by the Senate. Impoverished Americans with no access to affordable health care would have been able to see a doctor when they are sick, pregnant, or have other health needs. We must still close the Medicaid coverage gap for Americans who have a need for, and the right to, health care. Although it is not in this bill, I will continue to fight for this.

The bill makes historic investments to combat climate change by putting the United States on a path to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030, investing $369 billion in clean energy and energy efficiency to lower household energy costs, and ensuring that lower-income households can benefit from these programs.

The bill's clean energy and emission reduction programs attack the climate crisis at its source--electric utilities, cars, trucks, and methane emission producers--while ensuring that rural and disadvantaged communities share the benefits.

The IRA provides direct consumer incentives to relieve the high costs of energy and decrease utility bills by encouraging purchases of energy efficient and clean-energy goods, with a significant portion of the funding going to lower-income households and disadvantaged communities.

The bill includes $9 billion in consumer home energy rebate programs, focused on low-income consumers, to electrify home appliances and for energy efficient retrofits.

The IRA provides 10 years of consumer tax credits to make homes energy efficient, using clean energy and making heat pumps, rooftop solar, community solar projects, electric HVAC, and efficient water heaters more affordable.

The bill includes a $4,000 consumer tax credit for lower- and middle- income individuals to buy used clean-energy vehicles, and up to a $7,500 tax credit to buy new clean-energy vehicles. This will bring electric cars--and the fuel costs they save--within the reach of working families.

Additionally, the bill establishes a $1 billion grant program to make affordable housing more energy efficient.

The investments in this bill will reduce emissions in every sector of the economy, substantially reducing emissions from electricity generation, transportation, industrial manufacturing, buildings, and agriculture.

Tax credits are provided for clean sources of electricity and energy storage, and roughly $30 billion in targeted grant and loan programs for states and electric utilities to accelerate the transition to clean electricity.

The legislation includes tax credits and grants for clean fuels and clean commercial vehicles to reduce emissions from all parts of the transportation sector.

The bill provides grants and tax credits to reduce emissions from industrial manufacturing processes, including almost $6 billion for a new Advanced Industrial Facilities Deployment Program to reduce emissions from the largest industrial emitters like chemical, steel and cement plants.

To spur innovation, $27 billion is provided for a clean energy technology accelerator to aid deployment of technologies that reduce emissions, especially in disadvantaged communities.

The IRA has $9 billion for Federal procurement of American-made clean products, including $3 billion for zero-emission Postal Service vehicles, to create a stable market for them.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes over $60 billion for environmental justice priorities to drive investments into disadvantaged communities.

The bill has $3 billion for Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants that will invest in community-led projects in disadvantaged communities and community capacity building centers to address disproportionate environmental and public health harms related to pollution and climate change.

The IRA creates Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants with $3 billion to aid neighborhood equity, safety, and affordable transportation access. This landmark program addresses a long legacy of ignoring environmental justice concerns in project decision-making. The grants aim to reconnect communities divided by infrastructure barriers, mitigate negative impacts of transit facilities or construction projects on disadvantaged or underserved communities, and support equitable transportation planning and community engagement activities.

The bill provides another $3 billion for Grants to Reduce Air Pollution at Ports to support the purchase and installation of zero- emission equipment and technology at ports.

The IRA also provides $1 billion for clean heavy-duty vehicles, such as school and transit buses and garbage trucks.

There is $60 million for Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grants to address diesel emissions from goods movement facilities like airports and railyards, and from vehicles using those facilities.

The IRA has $236 million for Air Pollution Monitoring that will particularly benefit disadvantaged communities exposed to areas with persistent air pollution.

The bill includes $50 million to address Air Pollution at Schools by monitoring and reducing air pollution at public schools in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

The bill provides $87 million for the Low Emissions Electricity Program to support low-income and disadvantaged communities, and offer technical assistance to industry, as well as state and local governments, as they work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental justice is also central to initiatives that aim to decarbonize the economy, such as the technology accelerator and consumer home energy rebate programs, that focus on disadvantaged and low-income communities. Additionally, many of the clean energy tax credits include either a bonus or set-aside structure to drive investments and economic development in disadvantaged communities.

This bill funds energy reliability, cleaner energy, and historic investments in American clean energy manufacturing.

It includes over $60 billion for clean energy manufacturing in the U.S. across the full supply chain of clean energy and transportation technologies. These manufacturing incentives will help alleviate inflation and reduce the risk of future price shocks by bringing down the cost of clean energy and clean vehicles and relieving supply chain bottlenecks.

The IRA invests roughly $30 billion for production tax credits to accelerate U.S. manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and critical minerals processing.

The bill has a $10 billion investment tax credit to build clean technology manufacturing facilities, like facilities that make electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels.

The bill also funds $500 million in the Defense Production Act for heat pumps and critical minerals processing.

The bill has $2 billion in grants to retool auto manufacturing facilities to manufacture clean vehicles, ensuring that auto manufacturing jobs stay in the communities that rely on them.

The IRA provides up to $20 billion in loans to build new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities across the country.

To spur the next generation of energy technologies, the bill provides $2 billion for National Labs to accelerate breakthrough energy research.

To afford these investments and reduce the deficit, the Inflation Reduction Act requires the wealthiest people and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, without raising taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 each year. In fact, the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation reported that, in addition to not increasing taxes on any family making $400,000 or less, taxes on those families would actually be reduced by the IRA.

This would correct the longstanding injustice of hardworking American families paying their taxes on time while wealthy millionaires and billionaires avoid paying the taxes they owe to the federal government.

By creating a more equitable tax system, this bill will ease the pressure of inflation and allow more Americans to participate productively in the economy. Americans overwhelmingly agree that corporations have paid too little for too long. Only in Washington would Republicans fight against cutting costs for low- and middle- income workers and their families in defense of wealthy corporations.

To fairly and appropriately raise revenues, the bill includes major reforms, each of which are sound tax policies.

The Inflation Reduction Act imposes a corporate alternative minimum tax on corporations that earn more than $1 billion in annual profit, but do not pay at least a 15 percent tax rate. This would apply to about 150 corporations that average nearly $9 billion in profit, but which paid effective tax rates of just 1.1 percent. The minimum tax will make sure they pay their fair share, and will raise approximately $222 billion.

The bill will levy a 1 percent fee on stock buybacks by publicly- traded corporations to level the playing field. This reform to the tax code, which raises $74 billion, would put an end to favoring buybacks for rich shareholders and executives over investments in workers and innovation.

The legislation will help prevent the wealthiest Americans from sheltering their nonbusiness income and avoiding taxes. By extending the limitation on excess business losses for two years, the bill would raise an additional $52 billion.

This bill also gives the IRS resources to rebuild its antiquated systems to make the wealthy pay their taxes. By investing $80 billion over ten years for tax enforcement and compliance, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the IRS will collect $203 billion. Nearly 75 percent of Americans believe the IRS should conduct more tax audits of large corporations and millionaires. Recently, the IRS Commissioner emphasized that families making under $400,000 per year will not see increased audits.

I was upset that the Senate did not close the carried interest loophole, which lets investment fund managers pay lower taxes on their earnings than wage earners pay. Billionaires scored a win worth billions as others struggle to make ends meet. Yet, I am pleased that the bill levels the playing field with other taxes.

The Inflation Reduction Act is excellent legislation that will be a great leap forward for the American people, including for my constituents in the 18th Congressional District of Texas.


Mr. YARMUTH. Wasserman Schultz), who is a distinguished member of the Appropriations Committee.

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I proudly rise to support legislation that delivers relief to every kitchen table across the country, cuts healthcare and drug costs, and creates millions of good-paying jobs to save our planet for future generations.

In my home State of Florida, the Inflation Reduction Act hands security and peace of mind to millions of seniors in my State. It caps out-of-pocket prescription costs and monthly insulin costs for Medicare recipients, and finally allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.

Millions of Floridians will be healthier and more financially secure by lowering premiums for 13 million Americans with expanded financial help for the Affordable Care Act healthcare policies. It will slash energy costs and work to stop our warming planet from stealing their grandchildren's future.

This is our biggest shot ever to tackle climate change by speeding up clean energy transitions and cutting climate pollution 40 percent by 2030.

The Inflation Reduction Act does all this by making corporations pay their fair share, reducing the deficit, and ensuring no one who makes less than $400,000 will pay one penny more.

This is game-changing relief for our seniors, our climate, and anyone demanding tax fairness.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to pass this lifesaving legislation.

I just want to clarify one thing. It seems to me that Republicans just don't want people to pay taxes even if they are owed. We know there are hundreds of billions of dollars of owed-but-not-paid taxes in this country every year. This is an attempt to try and recover some of that money that is owed and is not being paid by taxpayers who are, in many cases, cheating.

To be clear, IRS has made no decisions or no announcements regarding the potential hiring plans under this bill. As I said before, the commissioner of the IRS has said that they are not going to increase audits of people making under $400,000. A lot of this money is designed to go to help service the legitimate and lawful taxpayers of this country by giving them better service, making the IRS more responsive, and to upgrading equipment which is now 50 or 60 years old in many cases.

So they can continue with this claim that we are going to go after taxpayers with armed IRS agents, and I know that Republicans would like to arm every tax agent as they want to arm everybody else in this country, but that is nonsense.


Mr. YARMUTH. Mr. Speaker, I want to respond one more time to these claims about 87,000 new IRS agents. The IRS has never made any announcement about plans to hire any number of agents. The Washington Post fact-checker has actually given that claim three Pinocchios. Again, these are Republicans making it up to scare the American people.

Spanberger), a distinguished member of the Committee on Agriculture.

Mr. YARMUTH. Madam Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. Ross), a distinguished member of the Committee on the Judiciary.


Mr. YARMUTH. Madam Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Madam Speaker, I want to remind my Republican colleagues and the American people, once again, what Republicans will be voting against today.

They will be voting against cutting prescription drug prices for their constituents. They will be voting against combating inflation and lowering energy costs. They will be voting against the largest Federal investment in dealing with climate crisis in the history of this country.

I cannot believe that I still heard from the other side today the hoax comment, that climate change is a hoax. You would think that as we watch what is going on in the world, while I watch what is going on in my State, when my citizens in eastern Kentucky were devastated by historic floods, when my citizens in western Kentucky were devastated by historic tornadoes, all of which scientists have said were exacerbated by climate change, that there are still people who deny that climate change exists.

But for the first time in this country, we will show true leadership to the world, that we are taking action, and we are going to lead the world in combating climate change.

The gentleman from Texas said Democrats own this bill. Yes, we do. Proud of it. I don't know one member of the Democratic Caucus who is not thrilled to death today that we are doing what we are doing, because the vast majority of the American people support what we are doing. The vast majority of the American people want us to cap out-of- pocket expenses for seniors for their medications at $2,000.

Republicans say no. They are going to vote against that. They are going to vote against a cap of a $35 copay for insulin. Tens of millions of Americans will benefit from that.

We know that five former Secretaries of the Treasury from both Democratic and Republican administrations, 126 of our Nation's top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates, support the Inflation Reduction Act.

On other side, we have Big Pharma, corporate lobbyists, tax cheats, and congressional Republicans.

This debate has made clearer than ever that Democrats are working to make life better for the American people while Republicans just don't care. It is as simple as it is harsh.

This legislation is important, historic, and a significant win for American families and for the planet.

I will be voting ``yes'' on the Inflation Reduction Act, and soon we will be sending it to President Biden's desk to be signed into law. I know he will be proud to do that as well.

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.