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Oregon Senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley hail Senate passage of Inflation Reduction Act

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WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., hailed Sunday's Senate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and issued news releases offering details of elements they had promoted and supported.

Here are those releases, in full:

Wyden Clean Energy, Prescription Drug Pricing Legislation Passes Senate as Part of Inflation Reduction Act

Historic legislation would cut carbon emissions, lower prescription drug costs in Oregon and nationwide; bill also adds federal funds to the fight against wildfires and drought

Washington, D.C. –  Legislation authored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today passed the Senate as part of the historic Inflation Reduction Act.

The linchpin of the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy package is Wyden’s Clean Energy for America Act, first introduced in 2015, which reforms the energy tax code to incentivize emissions reductions rather than specific technologies. 

The Clean Energy for America Act would reduce carbon emissions in the power sector by about 70 percent over the next decade, and is the main driver of the overall 40 percent reduction in emissions achieved by the Inflation Reduction Act.

“This historic clean energy package has been a decade in the making. When clean energy legislation failed in 2010, we regrouped to ensure success the next time Democrats had an opportunity,” said Wyden. “We turned to emissions-based, technology-neutral tax incentives, and spent nearly a decade preparing this bill. My lodestar has been achieving the greatest emissions and cost-savings possible with 50 votes. That’s why the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy tax package is about 90 percent of the Clean Energy for America Act that the Senate Finance Committee approved in May 2021. We built the support needed over time. 

Wyden continued, “This bill will reduce energy costs, secure our energy independence, and drastically cut carbon emissions. For the first time, the tax code is going to reward emissions reductions, and encourage the development of new clean energy technologies as soon as they come online. No longer will Congress need to legislate technology by technology, making it easier to innovate and bring new technologies to market. Importantly, this is permanent energy policy. Congress will no longer need to extend these incentives every few years, giving companies and states certainty to plan clean energy projects and create jobs. This is among the most consequential bills of my service in the Senate.”

On health care, the Inflation Reduction Act includes the culmination of Wyden’s work on the Finance Committee to address the high cost of prescription drugs.

The bill would finally allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, particularly for the most expensive drugs that have no competition after being on the market for years. The bill also includes an inflation rebate that limits Big Pharma’s ability to price gouge year after year, and it creates strong protections for seniors including a $2,000 per year out-of-pocket cap.

“For too long, Medicare has been forced to contend with Big Pharma with one hand tied behind its back – that ends when this bill is signed into law,” said Wyden. “Ever since I became the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, I have been spotlighting how the drug pricing system is broken top to bottom. At last, the Senate has begun to redefine the relationship between Medicare and Big Pharma. That work began last Congress on a bipartisan basis, and virtually the entirety of the Finance Committee’s work two years ago is included in the Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats have taken the critical next step by lifting the curse that has prevented Medicare from negotiating lower prices.

“Medicare negotiation is the centerpiece of the Inflation Reduction Act’s drug pricing reforms. No longer will drug companies be able to string Medicare along for years or even decades while taxpayers foot the bill. This policy targets the most expensive, most used drugs that have had zero competition for years on end. It lowers prices in a way that is fair and designed to promote innovation, not stifle it. Those negotiations will begin next year. It creates a limit on Big Pharma’s ability to price gouge with the Medicare inflation rebate, requiring drug companies to pay a fee to Medicare if they raise their prices faster than inflation. Critically, the bill will protect seniors from high out-of-pocket costs in less than a year and a half with a $2,000 out-of-pocket cap on drug costs, which will spare more than a million seniors from financial peril. Taken together, these policies represent a seismic shift in how Medicare pays for medicine, and it does so in a way that will greatly lower costs for seniors and taxpayers.”

The Inflation Reduction Act also provides the following for Oregon and the country:

·       More than $20 billion for farmers and ranchers to support climate-smart agriculture practices

·       $14 billion for rural electric cooperatives in the state and country to make the transition to cleaner energy

·       $5 billion to protect communities from wildfires by investing in projects on public and private lands, increase carbon sequestration, and reforestation 

·       More than $4 billion for drought mitigation

·       $3 billion to EPA for grants to reduce air pollution at ports, which could benefit Oregon’s 23 ports.

“With temperatures today throughout Oregon near or topping 100 degrees, these investments in wildfire prevention, drought mitigation and supporting our state’s farmers and ranchers are timely and welcome news to fight the devastating impacts of the climate crisis in our state,” Wyden said.

Merkley Applauds Passage of Inflation Reduction Act: “Today is a big day for America”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, historic legislation that will tackle the climate crisis, lower health care costs, and increase tax fairness, all while creating good-paying American jobs. For years, Merkley has been one of the Senate’s foremost advocates for bold climate action.

“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.”

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass the Inflation Reduction Act in the coming days, sending it to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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