WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden met Thursday with labor leaders and CEOs from General Motors, Carrier, Kaiser Permanente and other companies to press Congress to pass the drug, climate and tax bill recently introduced by Democrats.
"Pass it. Pass it, get it to my desk, pass it for the American people. Pass it for businesses and workers. Pass it for America," Biden said of the $430-billion bill introduced July 27, which has yet to win any Republican support.
Biden hosted GM's Mary Barra, AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler, United Auto Workers president Ray Curry, CEO of healthcare company Kaiser Permanente Greg Adams, and the top officials from Ameren, Carrier and Cummins, who talked about how the bill would benefit their companies and workers.
The bill will help unions "reshape the future," Shuler said, while reducing costs for families. "This is going to deliver fundamental economic change across America," she said.
The bill introduced by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aims to fight climate change with electric vehicle and green energy manufacturing credits and to cut drug costs and energy bills, while making big companies pay more in federal taxes.
The bill will "help drive further investments in American manufacturing," said Barra. GM and other electric vehicle makers could get a sales boost if the bill passes, because it expands $7,500 tax credits for EV buyers, and adds a $4,000 tax credit for lower income homes that buy used EVs.
"This legislation is just in time for millions of Americans," said Adams, because it expands Affordable Care Act subsidies that would have expired at the end of the year.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who also attended the meeting, called the bill "the biggest investment in fighting climate change in our country’s history."
It is just a fraction of the size of Biden's original multi-trillion spending proposal aimed at climate and the U.S. economy. If it does not get Republican support, Democrats hope it will pass using the "reconciliation" process which relies on a simple majority to make laws.
Five former U.S. Treasury secretaries - four Democrats and one Republican - said this week that the bill would reduce costs for middle-class families, and would not increase taxes for any family making less than $400,000/year.
(Reporting by Heather Timmons; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Marla Dickerson and Janet Lawrence)