By Corinne Murdock |
Over the weekend, Arizona’s two Democratic senators, Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, fell in line with their party and backed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA passed the Senate on Sunday along party lines, 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.
The IRA, a repackaged version of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) Act, projected well over $700 billion in revenue. However, some analysts have warned that the IRA will have the opposite desired effect on job creation, inflation and deficit reduction, incomes, tax rates, and drug prices.
The two senators opposed amendments to the IRA that would fund $500 million to finish the border wall, approve coal leases, increase domestic oil production in order to lower gas prices, protect those making under $400,000 from additional tax audits, limit price controls for treatments for conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, require oil and gas lease sales in the outer Continental Shelf, provide discounted insulin for low and middle-income Americans, remove $45 million in climate-related expenditures, retain Title 42, strike a tax increase resulting in higher energy prices for those earning under $400,000, hire more Border Patrol agents, reduce drug prices, invest in violent crime prevention, and prohibit tax credits for electric vehicles built with slave labor.
The IRA will also expand the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by up to 87,000 more employees through an $80 billion investment. That will make the IRS bigger than the Pentagon, State Department, FBI, and Border Patrol combined, as noted by Washington Free Beacon. IRS data reveals that over half of all IRS audits in 2021 focused on taxpayers making less than $75,000 a year.
All Democrats, including Kelly and Sinema, rejected an amendment to remove provisions expanding the IRS.
Arizonans gathered on Saturday in Phoenix to protest Sinema and Kelly’s support of the bill. FreedomWorks Grassroots Director and Co-founder of EZAZ.org Merissa Hamilton, who helped organize the protest, criticized Sinema and Kelly for supporting the IRS increase, which she called an “inquisition” comparable to the treatment of ideological opponents under the Obama administration.
“Clearly, your IRS inquisitions are to target us like you did the Obama-Biden administration, and we have had enough,” said Hamilton. “We’re already in the middle of a recession — I know it’s tough for you to say the “r” word, but it’s time for you to take responsibility, represent Arizona, and stop betraying us.”
An amendment to prevent oil sales to China was ruled out of order by Senate chair after Kelly and Sinema joined the majority of Democrats to waive it.
Sinema insisted that the IRA would “help Arizonans build better lives” through lowered prices on goods and services, accessible health care, and water and energy security. Sinema promised that the IRA would cause Arizona’s economy to improve.
As AZ Free News reported last week, Sinema’s original holdout on the IRA concerned its carried tax provision. Democratic leadership agreed to drop that provision in order to earn her vote.
Kelly elaborated further on the rationale for the Arizona senators’ votes. He said that the IRA will lower prescription drug costs, implement funding to effectively combat drought and “climate change,” and reduce the deficit. Kelly promised that the IRA wouldn’t result in increased taxes for small businesses and middle-class Arizonans.
“When I meet with Arizonans and small businesses across our state, the top concern I hear about is rising costs,” said Kelly. “This is going to lower costs for health care, prescription drugs, and energy while creating great-paying jobs in Arizona.”
Notable opposition to the IRA came from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The senator criticized the IRA for not doing enough to help the working class, and proposed amendments to modify the bill that were roundly rejected, 99-1. However, Sanders ultimately fell in line with the Democratic Party and voted for the bill.