With climate bill on track, Congress suddenly looks productive | #schoolshooting


The 117th Congress, which began with an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol that personalized and deepened party divides, is preparing to head out of town having notched a surprising number of sweeping, often bipartisan, legislative accomplishments.

In the past six weeks, Republicans have joined Democrats in passing measures on gun safety, semiconductor manufacturing, and helping veterans affected by burn pits. That’s in addition to last fall’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Why We Wrote This

An institution that has been written off as largely dysfunctional has passed a series of bipartisan bills, and is poised to ink major climate legislation. Is Congress working again?

Now, Democrats appear poised to push through a bill that would fight climate change, reduce prescription drug prices, and make corporations pay more taxes. 

“To do the biggest infrastructure, climate, and gun bills in the last 30 years is a pretty significant accomplishment,” says Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who spearheaded the gun deal in June. 

Indiana Sen. Todd Young, the lead Republican on the $280 billion semiconductor bill, calls that legislation “incredibly consequential.” He also says there’s “a lot to celebrate” in the infrastructure bill.

But in his view, those bipartisan accomplishments have been offset by counterproductive measures, including the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan of 2021, which many Republicans blame for the current inflation. “It’s unfortunate that the positive steps have been undermined and outright negated by these unforced errors,” says Senator Young.

Washington
The 117th Congress, which began with an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol that personalized and deepened party divides, is preparing to head out of town having notched a surprising number of sweeping, often bipartisan, legislative accomplishments.

In the past six weeks alone, Republicans have joined Democrats in passing measures on gun safety, semiconductor manufacturing, helping veterans affected by burn pits, and approving Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to NATO. That’s in addition to last fall’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, which allocated $1.2 trillion to upgrading America’s roads, bridges, and other systems, including mass transit and broadband coverage. 

Now, Democrats appear poised to push through a bill that would fight climate change, reduce prescription drug prices, and make corporations pay more taxes. Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s announcement Thursday that she would support the bill with some changes, including revising the corporate minimum tax to avoid hurting manufacturers, removed the largest potential obstacle to passing the bill through reconciliation, a budget procedure that does not require any GOP votes. 

Why We Wrote This

An institution that has been written off as largely dysfunctional has passed a series of bipartisan bills, and is poised to ink major climate legislation. Is Congress working again?

“To do the biggest infrastructure, climate, and gun bills in the last 30 years is a pretty significant accomplishment,” says Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who spearheaded the gun deal in June – a decade after the Sandy Hook school shooting that killed 26 in his state a month before he took office. “I’d argue that more substantive, bipartisan legislation has been passed in the last few years than at any time since I’ve been in Congress.”

In 2020, Joe Biden had pitched himself as a pragmatic candidate who would restore normalcy to politics and work across the aisle with his Republican friends. Then Democrats won control of the Senate, and suddenly the 36-year Senate veteran was faced with expectations that he could become the next FDR or LBJ. When negotiations over the multi-trillion-dollar “Build Back Better” bill fell apart last fall, the president’s agenda seemed stalled amid Democratic infighting and accusations of overreach. 



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