Durbin Urges Colleagues To Pass The Historic Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act will lower costs, create jobs, and fight inflation

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged his colleagues to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, historic legislation that will lower health care costs, combat climate change, reduce the federal deficit, and fight inflation.

Durbin began his speech by highlighting the various bills the Senate has passed in the last six weeks—thanks to Senate Democrat’s leadership. On Tuesday, the Senate passed the Honoring Our PACT Act, legislation that will expand eligibility for health care for veterans suffering from toxic exposure in the line of duty. The Senate also voted to ratify the membership of Finland and Sweden into NATO—sending a clear message to Vladimir Putin amid his war in Ukraine.

Durbin said, “Two major achievements in just two days, both with huge bipartisan majorities. That's proof for the doubters that the Senate can work together when the need is urgent and the solutions are just. Now we are debating another historic plan that should have the support of both parties.”

“I listen to the speeches each day on the floor of the Senate, and every day our Republican colleagues stand on the floor and say it's about time we did something about inflation,” said Durbin. “They know that's exactly the way the American families feel, and I feel as well. And then sadly when given a chance as they will be in just a few minutes, my Republican friends try to stop legislation that will lower the cost and give American families a break on their cost of living. All the speeches notwithstanding, they refuse to vote for a provision which will actually lower families' living costs. They oppose cutting taxes for families. They oppose banning price gouging by oil companies. They oppose cutting health care premiums. They oppose extending the child tax credits. They oppose lowering prescription drug prices. But we're going to give them another chance to do the right thing.”

The Inflation Reduction Act includes many provisions that will help cut costs for American families. It will reduce our national deficit by about $300 billion, cut energy costs—now and in the future—by deploying American-made clean energy and by making the biggest investment to battle the climate crisis in U.S. history, and combat climate change. The Inflation Reduction Act invests in clean, new American energy sources, so that our energy future can be determined by American ingenuity, not a foreign oil cartel. The bill will enable the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 40 percent by 2030.

Durbin continued, “Whether it's an extreme drought, an extreme flooding situation, more tornadoes than ever at different times of the year, the list goes on and on… And the question is when we give speeches, will we lament these extreme weather events or will we do something? That's why this bill that's coming up today is so important… And to reduce greenhouse gas emissions not only does the right thing for America, it sets an example for the world.”

A recent analysis by the Office of Management and Budget warns that climate change could reduce the nation’s GDP by 10 percent and cost Americans $2 trillion a year by the end of the century—about one-third of the entire U.S. budget this year.

The Inflation Reduction Act will also cut families’ health care costs. The bill extends the enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies for 13 million Americans for three more years; it allows Medicare finally to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs; it caps seniors’ out-of-pocket prescription costs at $2,000 a year; and it penalizes drug companies if they try to increase the price of their Medicare drugs more than the rate of inflation.

“We want to cut health care costs to make sure as well that seniors cap their out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 a year—$2,000 a year still is a sacrifice for many seniors, but it's a reasonable amount,” Durbin said. “We know what's happening now. Many seniors have drugs that they're supposed to be taking. They can't afford to fill the prescriptions. They take half the dose when they should be taking a full dosage. That's the reality of the prescription drug pricing in America. Is it a serious problem? Well, just ask Blue Cross Blue Shield in Chicago—and I have. What's the impact of these inflated prescription drug prices on health care premiums? Blue Cross Blue Shield said to me, it's the number-one driver of increased health insurance premium costs. The cost of prescription drugs. So when we start bringing down these costs, we're also going to create a situation where we have less incentive to increase premiums for health insurance.”

Over the past five years, the 14 largest drug corporations spent more on stock buybacks—lining the pockets of their CEOs—than on R&D.

Durbin also debunked Republican myths that this bill will raise taxes on working families. Five years ago, Republicans used the Senate’s reconciliation process to pass a nearly $2 trillion tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that overwhelmingly benefitted big corporations and the wealthiest individuals in America. The Inflation Reduction Act helps every day Americans, and no one earning less than $400,000 a year will see any increase in their taxes.

“What's wrong with this picture? The average American family is paying its taxes, as the law requires, yet these corporations have found an escape hatch to avoid paying any taxes whatsoever… the poor families are doing their part to pay their taxes. It's time these wealthy individuals and corporations did the same. Instead of adding to the national debt, as our Republican colleagues did with their tax cuts for the corporations and wealthy, our proposal we’ll vote on today will reduce the deficit by $300 billion… Cutting the deficit reduces inflation pressure in the long run. In [the] short term, we're fighting inflation by lowering the costs of energy and health care,” said Durbin.

Durbin concluded, “Do our Republican friends really want to tame inflation and help families with energy and health care or just come to the floor and complain? That's the choice they have. If they want to help, we have a plan. It's fair, it’s paid for, it fights inflation, and it lowers the deficit… it's what America is waiting for and looking for. I hope that a number of Republicans will surprise us and join us.”

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.                                                              

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.