With Republicans unanimously opposed to the package, Democrats used the fast-track budget reconciliation process to navigate the legislation through both chambers, as they did last year with the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package. Cut entirely out of the process, Republicans fumed that the bill did little to address inflation and criticized the plans for tax increases and more federal spending. (Many economists agree it is likely to dampen inflation, though modestly and not immediately.)
“Having been left with a ‘take it or leave it’ offer from the Senate Democrats, with no opportunity to provide input or to amend the bill, I am appalled that the majority is once again choosing to simply take it,” Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the House Rules Committee, said at a hearing on Wednesday. He added, “It should come as no surprise that not a single Republican will vote for this bill, just as not a single Republican voted for the last reconciliation bill.”
Republicans have trained their ire in part on a proposal to invest $80 billion in the Internal Revenue Service. Democrats say it will bolster the historically underfunded agency and help crack down on wealthy tax evaders and corporations, but Republicans have branded it a heavy-handed attack on lower- and middle-class taxpayers. In response to the criticism, Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury secretary, instructed the agency this week to ensure that there is not an uptick in audits for small businesses or families that make less than $400,000.
Others scoffed at the fact that the entire House would not be present to vote on the legislation. As of Friday morning, more than a third of House lawmakers had filed the necessary paperwork needed to vote by proxy — a practice instituted to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that cites “the ongoing public health emergency” as a reason for being unable to vote in person.
“This proxy ‘voting’ — by virtue of a lie by most involved (signing that it is COVID related) will be used (unlawfully) to pass tax increases, harmful energy regulations, fund IRS agents to harass citizens, & a massive increase of ‘big healthcare’ cronyism,” Representative Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, said on Twitter.
The package will help move the Biden administration toward fulfilling its pledge to cut emissions roughly in half by 2030, though scientists and climate activists warn that more congressional and executive action will be needed to meet that goal. It aims to use the tax code to incentivize consumers and companies to purchase and invest in electric vehicles, solar panels and other renewable energy sources like wind or solar power, as well as the facilities needed to build more of those items domestically.