Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) was visibly emotional after the Senate passed a sweeping spending bill Sunday afternoon, emphasizing the importance of what Democrats are heralding as the largest climate investment in US history.
“This is a planetary emergency and this is the first time that the federal government has taken action that is worthy of the moment,” Schatz said outside the Senate chamber minutes after the bill passed.
“This is the biggest climate action that any country has ever taken, and now I can look my kids in the eye and say we’re really doing something about climate,” he added.
The Senate passed the mammoth bill shortly after 3 pm on Sunday, capping off a marathon session that featured more than 15 hours of debate. Vice President Harris cast the tie-breaking vote to send the measure to the House, where it is widely expected to pass.
The bill, titled the Inflation Reduction Act, provides $369 in energy security and climate investments. The measure includes $4,000 and $7,500 tax credits for purchasing used and new electric vehicles, but the funds cannot go towards vehicles that have batteries made from minerals processed in China.
The legislation is expected to bring down climate-warming emissions by 40 percent over the next 10 years.
Schatz, chief deputy whip for the Democratic caucus, told reporters “we’ve been fighting for this for decades.”
Democrats approved the bill through budget reconciliation, an arcane process that requires a simple majority vote for passage. The process allowed Democrats to avoid a GOP filibuster.
During a press conference shortly after passage of the bill Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) said the upper chamber “has now passed the most significant bill to fight the climate crisis ever.”
“It’s gonna make a difference to my grandkids. The world will be a better place for my grandchildren because of what we did today. And that makes me feel very, very good. Very, very good,” the Democratic leader added.