WASHINGTON — It was a busy year for Congress, which passed a series of important bills, most with bipartisan support. And it may be the highlight of Joe Biden’s presidency from a legislative standpoint, with Republicans poised to take over the House of Representatives in early 2023.
As two years of full Democratic control come to an end, here are five of the most important bills passed in 2022.
A comprehensive climate, health and tax bill
The Inflation Reduction Law represents the largest attempt in US history to combat climate change with a $369 billion clean energy financing package covering cars, homes and businesses. It also aims to curb methane emissions and sets aside money for communities hard hit by air pollution and other climate-related problems.
The legislation contains new measures to reduce the costs of prescription drugs, including a provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with the pharmaceutical industry, a new annual cap of $2,000 in out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions through Medicare, and a monthly cap of $35 insulin for Medicare beneficiaries. It is funded by a potpourri of new taxes, including a 15% corporate minimum tax.
There is also more funding for the IRS tax collection included in the bill.
It passed with a slim margin: a 51-50 vote in the Senate, beating all Democratic senators and requiring Vice President Kamala Harris to break the tie, and 220-207 in the House. Not a single Republican voted in favor.
A new electoral law aimed at avoiding another January 6
The massive government finance bill that passed Friday included a major electoral reform package designed to prevent future presidential candidates from stealing elections.
The Electoral Count Reform Law will revise the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to make it clear that the vice president cannot count electoral votes. He will raise the threshold for objections by a member of the House and the Senate to one-fifth of both chambers. It will also prevent competing voter lists and simplify state certification with mechanisms to ensure the rightful winner is certified.
The bipartisan package, led by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., aims to close loopholes in federal law that former President Donald Trump and his allies tried to exploit to stay in office. power after losing the 2020 election. It is designed to protect future US elections and prevent another January 6th.
The toughest new gun law in nearly 30 years
For the first time in nearly three decades, Congress has toughened gun laws, in response to growing public support for actions to address the mass shootings that have become commonplace in the US.
The Safer Communities Act — a bipartisan bill led by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas — includes grants for states to pass “red flag” laws designed to stop people who might pose a threat from for themselves or for others to purchase or possess a firearm.
Strengthens background checks for 18-21 year olds, opening the door to examining juvenile records. He tries to close the “boyfriend loophole” by keeping firearms away from dating couples who are convicted of abuse. The law also clarifies which gun dealers must register as licensees and are therefore required to run background checks on potential buyers.
The action in Washington came in response to the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, which occurred 10 days apart and killed a total of 31 people, including 19 schoolchildren.
A law to improve US competition with China
The CHIPS and Science Act it is both important legislation and a message that the US does not intend to lag behind China when it comes to global competitiveness.
The law, which grew out of a bill first negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind. — makes a massive $280 billion investment in semiconductor manufacturing, research and development in the US and tax breaks for chip production.
The White House and congressional advocates have described it as an essential step to reinvigorate the struggling American manufacturing industry and make a down payment on the American workforce. It’s another bipartisan success story for this Congress, representing a rare point of strong consensus between the two parties: that the US must combat China’s growing influence on the world stage.
The consecration of same-sex marriage
One of the final acts of the Democratic-controlled Congress was to pass a law codifying federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.
The Law of Respect for Marriage —led by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, the first openly gay American elected to the Senate—forces the federal government to recognize legal same-sex marriages and guarantee couples all the benefits “regardless of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin”. It won’t require states to issue marriage licenses contrary to state law, but same-sex couples will enjoy the benefits if they marry in a different state.
The legislation came after the new 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court voted last summer to overturn Roe v. Wade, prompting critics to fear he might do the same to same-sex marriage rights. The new law provides a buffer against that possibility.
It reflects America’s growing support for legal same-sex marriage and was a celebratory moment for Biden a decade after he upstaged his then-boss, President Barack Obama, by jumping in front of him to declare his support for same-sex marriage. people of the same sex as vice president.