‘I’m sorry when I’m away from home’: Democrats buoyed by recent legislative victories

Democrats are celebrating a string of victories as they return to their home states for the August break and begin the election campaign. with less than 100 days until election daythey are eager to tout some recent achievements, including their long-awaited climate and health care legislation, along with several other high-profile pieces of legislation that are giving vulnerable Democrats a positive message heading into November.

On Sunday, Senate Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act without a single Republican vote. It is the largest action ever taken by Congress to combat climate change. The measure also empowers Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a longtime Democratic priority, and caps out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare patients. Some Democrats were already running campaign ads about the proposals included in the bill; now, they can point to legislation as proof that they can deliver on their promises.

“I am delighted that we have finally been able to pass this once-in-a-lifetime historic investment in our country’s future that will lower costs for Georgians, create clean energy jobs and reduce the deficit, all at the same time,” the senator said. . Raphael Warnockwho is seeking re-election in the close race against Republican candidate Herschel Walker.

After the Senate vote, Warnock touted two specific pieces of legislation he proposed: Medicare’s $35 cap on insulin and capping drug costs for seniors. “I’m not in love with politics, I’m in love with change, and this legislation will make real change in people’s lives.”

Election 2022 New Hampshire Senate
Sen. Maggie Hassan, DN.H., speaks to reporters after signing documents to apply for re-election, Friday, June 10, 2022, at the Secretary of State’s office in Concord, NH

Kathy McCormack/AP

Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, who will face Republican challenger Blake Masters this fall, also celebrated the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

“When I meet with Arizonans and small businesses across our state, the number one concern I hear is rising costs. This will lower health care, prescription drug and energy costs while creating jobs.” well paid in Arizona,” he said. tweeted.

Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire called Medicare’s ability to negotiate prescription drug prices a common sense measure she has been fighting for after hearing too many stories in her state of people struggling to pay for prescriptions. Hassan’s Republican challenger will be determined in the state primary on September 13.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where lawmakers are expected to return to Washington to vote along party lines on Friday.

The political impact of the act could be felt especially in the House, where Democrats have a slim majority and are in danger of losing control of the chamber this November. The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker estimates that Republicans are likely to retake the House this fall with 230 seats. The Senate race appears to be a draw.

But the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is the latest in a recent wave of legislative gains for Democrats and President Biden in particular, whose passage this summer hit an all-time low. In the past two months, lawmakers were able to pass a gun bill with bipartisan support, the Science and CHIPS Act focused on American innovation and competitiveness and the PACT Law — health care legislation for veterans exposed to burn pits.

Democrats expect an increase in their base’s motivation to turn out and vote with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, who ended the nation’s right to abortion, and rejoice over the recent rejection of an amendment in Kansas that would have allowed the GOP-controlled legislature to further restrict or even ban abortion.

Democratic Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania’s 7th District said that while the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade has been the “catalyst” for a stronger party presence in her district, and the bills in recent weeks have kept that presence “reverberating.”

“I’m sorry when I’m away from home,” he said. “I’ve noticed an increase in the market, I’m not going to say enthusiasm because people are very angry about some things, but enthusiasm and making sure they get out the vote.”
At the same time, Democrats facing an avalanche of Republican Party Attacks on Rising Inflation they are also quick to point out that gas prices have been falling since peaking at more than $5 a gallon in June. Gasoline costs $4.01 a gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA.

While congressional Democrats are pushing their votes on the climate and health care bill, some candidates in battleground states seeking to unseat Republican lawmakers are also using the legislation to go after their opponents.

In North Carolina, Democratic Senate candidate and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley challenged her opponent, Republican Congressman Ted Budd, arguing that any lawmaker serious about cutting costs would support her.

Congresswoman Val Demings, who is running to unseat Senator Marco Rubio, tweeted the same argument about the legislation and called on Congress to pass more measures like this.

In Pennsylvania, where Republican Senator Pat Toomey is retiring, Democratic Lt. Gov. and current Senate candidate John Fetterman criticized Republicans for blocking an amendment to the Inflation Reduction Act that would have capped insulin at $35 a month for everybody.

“Dr. Oz and his Republican friends in Washington want you to pay exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs like insulin. No one should have to ration the drugs they need to survive,” he said.

Both Wild and Democratic Rep. Mike Levin of California have said they will highlight the provisions on lowering prescription drug costs when they talk to voters about how this law will reduce inflation.

Both also said the law’s temporary extension of health insurance subsidies and the prevention of a big increase in premium rates this fall is a big selling point they can promote to voters.

“Forget electoral politics for a second – just from a political perspective, there are people out there fighting inflation, gas and food are expensive – the last thing you need is people being hit with higher health care premiums “. Levin said.

Senate works on Capitol Hill in final week before recess
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrives for a news conference on the Inflation Reduction Act outside the US Capitol on August 4, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act is a drastically scaled-down version of last year’s proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill that passed the House. But it has its advantages. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the current bill would actually reduce the deficit by just over $100 billion over the next decade, while the new tax enforcement provisions could generate more than $200 billion in new revenue over the next decade. the same period of time.

No Republicans in the Senate voted for the Inflation Reduction Act and no Republican members of the House are expected to support it on Friday’s vote. Republicans continue to accuse Democrats of reckless spending with their latest legislation, a common theme for Republicans heading into the midterms when inflation hit a more than 40-year high, up 9.1% year-over-year in June.

However, the Democrats can be expected to suggest their approach is working. For the first time in more than two years, inflation was flat last month and the annual rate decreased to 8.5%.

In an interview with CBS News’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday, Senate Republican National Committee Chairman Rick Scott said the Inflation Reduction Act should be called the “War on Seniors Act.” Other Republican lawmakers argue that he would raise taxes, despite the president’s promise not to raise taxes on households earning less than $400,000.

A poll this week in three swing districts by the American Action Network, a House GOP-backed nonprofit, tested the Republican message that the bill would add IRS agents, include a tax credit for electric cars for “rich families” and would cause corporations to cut jobs due to higher corporate taxes. It found that in districts in Michigan, New York and Texas, most respondents would likely vote against a Democrat after hearing their claims.

House Republican leaders have already begun to cast votes against the bill, saying it has “budget gimmicks that don’t actually reduce the deficit” and criticizing provisions about adding IRS agents.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise, tasked with counting the votes, wrote an email to House Republicans that also links the Inflation Reduction Act provisions to the FBI’s search of Mar-A-Lago on Monday. .

“Look no further than the Biden Justice Department who have fully armed themselves against their political opponents, just imagine what they want to do with 87,000 IRS agents hired by the same administration,” it read.

Wild called that approach “an absolutely ridiculous talking point” and said he had already answered a question about the IRS during a recent town hall.

The challenge facing Wild, Levin and other Democrats running competitive races is how to talk about this legislation with voters. Passing a bill doesn’t always resonate with voters.

“The way I talk about the bills to people in my district, I always give them the broad outlines. I give them the very good news. But I try to temper it by making sure people understand that progress is slow,” he said. Wild. . “But it’s about helping people understand between now and November and beyond exactly what they need to do to take advantage of these resources being sent to them.”

“I think the House Democrats’ political obituary was written too soon. And let’s see how the next few months go. And let’s go out and campaign,” Levin added.

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