U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Connecticut’s U.S. senators hailed as a political miracle the weekend passage of a compromise bill of Democratic priorities including provisions to cap the costs of prescription drugs for seniors, combat climate change and pay down the federal deficit. 

During a Monday morning press conference, Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal characterized the advancement of the Inflation Reduction Act as a win for everyday people, passed by the U.S. Senate on exclusively Democratic votes following a lengthy overnight session that ended Sunday. The House is expected to take up the legislation later this week. 

Blumenthal said the bill came after a year and half of “seemingly futile” negotiations. 

“Our ability to maintain this coalition to the finish line was nothing short of a political miracle,” Blumenthal said. “Unfortunately and sadly, this measure was purely partisan and the triumph here is for Americans, not for one party or another.”

Among the 755-page bill’s various elements are provisions which cap at $2,000 the out-of-pocket expenses of prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare by allowing the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices. Other sections dedicate more that $300 billion to curb climate change over the next decade through investments in clean energy. 

Meanwhile, the legislation would spend $300 billion to reduce the federal deficit. Spending in the bill has been offset by a new 15% minimum tax on companies earning more than $1 billion a year in profits. 

Senate Republicans uniformly opposed the bill, which passed with the support of 50 Democratic senators and Vice President Kamala Harris. In a statement Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of doubling down on failed policies. 

“[T]heir response to the runaway inflation they’ve created is a bill that experts say will not meaningfully cut inflation at all,” McConnell said. “The American people are clear about their priorities. Environmental regulation is a 3% issue. Americans want solutions for inflation, crime, and the border.”

On Monday, Murphy said Republicans were straining to justify their opposition to “wildly popular” provisions included in the bill. 

“Capping drug costs, cleaning up the environment, asking corporations to pay their fair share and going after tax cheats– there’s not a lot in this legislation that people are going to be unhappy with so Republicans are having to invent reasons,” Murphy said. 

Nora Duncan, state director for the AARP, said the prescription drug cap would provide relief for millions of Americans. 

“For 20 years it’s been illegal for Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs and that is finally over. We can negotiate on behalf of consumers instead of not negotiating for the benefit of big pharma,” Duncan said.

In a press release, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters praised the environmental portions of the bill as historic investments. 

“Between increasingly devastating climate-fueled weather events, high gas prices, and rising inflation, this agreement could not come fast enough,” Lori Brown, the group’s executive director, said.  

Murphy said the climate change provisions were of special concern for many young people. 

“[Climate change is] the only part of this bill my kids care about,” Murphy said. “Young people in this country are really scared — scared because time is running out. If we don’t make different decisions about the pace of pollution in this world, the next generation isn’t going to be able to fix it.”