Oregon Democrat speaks up for plan that passed Senate, awaits approval by U.S. House and signature by Biden.

Statement by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., on Senate passage Sunday, Aug. 7, of the Inflation Reduction Act

PMG FILE PHOTO - U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., at Pamplin Media Group in 2019. Merkley joined all 50 Democrats, plus the tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris, on an Aug. 7 vote to pass a budget reconciliation measure that includes tax incentives for carbon-reduced energy, extends subsidies for individual insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act, and set a new minimum tax on corporations. The bill (HR 5376) goes back to the U.S. House for action scheduled Aug. 12."Today is a big day for America. For the first time, the U.S. Senate has passed major legislation to remake our energy system — and to do so while also lowering health care costs and creating good-paying, family-wage jobs, all paid for by ensuring billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share in taxes.

"We're taking on Big Pharma to lower drug prices. This bill starts the process of negotiating prescription drug prices and caps out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions at $2,000 a year for seniors on Medicare. Additionally, it helps middle class families get affordable insurance coverage by extending key tax credits and preventing big cost increases that would have hit families this fall. This bill is a big win for affordable health care, and we need to keep building on it. American taxpayers contribute more than the citizens of any other nation in the world to research and development of drugs. They deserve the best prices in the world, not the worst.

"We're going to transition to clean energy and create high-quality union jobs while we do it. Year after year, I've seen my home state of Oregon and other states across the West decimated by mega wildfires and record droughts. In other parts of the country, we've seen superstorms, sea rise and unprecedented flooding. Climate chaos is here, and we have to act now to save lives and livelihoods from catastrophe. This bill is the most significant piece of climate legislation ever passed through the U.S. Senate and finally puts us on a path to transition to clean and renewable energy. What's more, this bill borrows from the strategy I laid out in my Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act to juice the creation of good, family-wage jobs as we're transitioning to a greener future. This bill is a huge investment in a Made in America, union future for renewable energy in the United States. The bill is not perfect, and I particularly regret parts of it that encourage more climate-killing oil and gas infrastructure and that leave frontline communities vulnerable to the ensuing impacts. But overall, the bill does a lot to drive a fast transition from fossil to renewable energy, and that is a massive stride in the right direction.

"We're taking on big corporations to finally deliver tax fairness for working Americans. Many huge corporations like Amazon pay little to no federal taxes. That's outrageous. It's time for big corporations who've benefited from Americans' investments in education, infrastructure, research and so much more to pay their fair share. The 15% minimum corporate tax in the Inflation Reduction Act stops big corporations from exploiting loopholes to evade taxes, and it taxes stock buybacks to incentivize companies to invest in workers and expansion — not just lining the pockets of CEOs and shareholders. This means that we can pay for historic climate investments without raising taxes by a single dime on working Americans — and to do it all while reducing the deficit by $300 billion to help bring down inflation. This is economic justice for real American families who are suffering.

"It's been a long road to get here — and our work most certainly doesn't stop here. But today, Senate Democrats have delivered in a big way for the American people. In future years, I hope that we will be able to look back and see today's vote as a major inflection point on climate action, both here in the United States and globally. Let's keep moving forward and build on this work by putting our country on an emergency footing to combat the climate crisis — and let's keep working to bring costs down for consumers, put workers over big corporations and deliver a better future for all."

— Peter Wong

NOTE: This is posted separately from a story based on a Monday, Aug. 8, press event by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden from his home in Southeast Portland.

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