Skip to content

Pelosi, Schumer play the hits as Biden celebrates reconciliation law

Biden says economy is stronger, but there's more work to do

President Joe Biden speaks during an event to mark the anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday.
President Joe Biden speaks during an event to mark the anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi reunited Wednesday to provide the warm-up act for a White House ceremony celebrating a year since President Joe Biden signed a broad reconciliation law.

“We all want to the thank the president for making all the difference in the world, with an agenda of diversity, inclusion, innovation and justice, always for the children,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said, reprising a familiar line from her time as speaker.

“This is the president’s day. He started in 1986,” Pelosi said of climate legislation Biden proposed in the Senate. “He has been relentless, persistent, insistent and the rest, to make one year ago today happen.”

Pelosi and Schumer each had plenty of applause lines for the capacity crowd, which included a number of House members and advocates from both inside and outside of government.

“To have to do it under the circumstances of which we did. All the rules of reconciliation and all of that, to pass such an amazing piece of legislation, is one of the great legislative feats that has ever occurred,” Schumer said.

As anticipated, Sen. Joe Manchin III was not among the attendees. It turned out that, according to Schumer, only he and Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts were in attendance among Senate Democrats, but he said all of them are “here in spirit.”

“We were a greater team — could have said the New York Yankees but — we were a greater team than the Baltimore Orioles,” Schumer said. The Orioles currently lead the American League East, while the team from the Bronx is in last place.

The law, which Biden signed one year ago, was dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act after going through several legislative iterations with the name Build Back Better, a phrase Biden ran on in the 2020 election.

It covered an array of subjects including a minimum corporate tax, excise tax on corporate stock buybacks and funding to increase the staff of the Internal Revenue Service. It also authorized Medicare to negotiate better drug prices and cap monthly payments for insulin. And it had mandates and funding for climate policies such as incentives to buy electric vehicles.

Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia whose seat is up next year but has not said if he’s running for it or possibly considering a third-party bid for president, issued a statement criticizing the implementation of the law, which he played a key role in crafting.

“Make no mistake, the IRA is exactly the kind of legislation that in normal political times both political parties would proudly embrace because it is about putting the interests of Americans and West Virginians first,” Manchin said. “Going forward I will push back on those who seek to undermine this significant legislation for their respective political agenda, and that begins with my unrelenting fight against the Biden Administration’s efforts to implement the IRA as a radical climate agenda instead of implementing the IRA that was passed into law.”

A nonprofit group connected to the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is going on air with a six-figure ad buy targeting Manchin’s support of the law, as first reported by NBC News.

“Sen. Manchin did a victory lap,” the narrator says in an ad released Wednesday. “He proudly took credit for passing the job-killing bill. President Biden even gave him the pen.”

The president on Wednesday seemed well aware that he is not getting credit when there’s positive economic data, saying, “I’m not here to declare victory on the economy, but our economy is stronger and better than any industrialized nation in the world right now, but we have more work to do. We have a plan that’s running, turning things around. The Inflation Reduction Act is part of that plan.”

The most recent Quinnipiac University poll, conducted Aug. 10-14, signaled a disconnect in public opinion on the economy, with 51 percent of Americans saying they perceive the economy is getting worse, but 60 also saying their personal situation is either “excellent” or “good.”

The White House and its supporters have pointed to a number of provisions in the law that aim to reduce costs, including efforts to promote energy efficiency to reduce electricity bills over the long term, as well as to reduce the cost of insulin and broader efforts on prescription drug costs.

“Of the stresses on families, health care costs are one of their paramount concerns,” Neera Tanden, the president’s domestic policy adviser, told reporters Tuesday. “And we know that pharmaceutical costs, drug costs are … driving health care costs up.”

Recent Stories

Capitol Ink | Aerial assault

Auto parts suppliers fear a crash with shift to EVs

As summer interns descend on the Hill, this resource office is ready

Democrats add five candidates to Red to Blue program

Is Congress still ‘The Last Plantation’? It is for staffers, says James Jones

Staffers bear the brunt of threats aimed at district offices