Sanders calls on Democrats to bring drug pricing bill to Senate

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersManchin crosses party lines as he formally endorses Murkowski’s midterm primaries that could be key to balancing the Senate Schumer faces war brewing and Progressives step up primary threats MORE (I-Vt.) Wednesday called on Senate Democrats to vote on legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs while criticizing what he called inaction on the issue.

“We’re voting for an assistant secretary of something,” he said. “The American people don’t stay up at night worrying about this. They worry about prescription drugs. They worry about the weather.

Lowering drug prices was a key part of the Democrats’ Build Back Better package, but that measure is now stalled with no clear path forward given Sen’s objections. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden backs Capitol Hill workers’ efforts to unionize Energy Panel Republicans grill Biden Interior nominee on hire in rare second hearing Manchin skeptical of congressional staff union MORE (DW.Va.), meaning he doesn’t have the 50 votes needed to pass.

“What I believe we need to do now is take the components of Build Back Better, starting with prescription drugs, get them to the ground, get the debate started and we’ll see where we go,” Sanders said.

The Sanders-backed drug pricing legislation would face a surge to pass given widespread Republican opposition to more sweeping drug pricing measures and the 60-vote threshold needed for most legislation.

But Sanders argued that it was worth having debates in the Senate anyway. “Things happen when you get to the ground,” he said.

Asked if he had made this request to the Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden Fed picks get a boost from dozens of economists Where Chuck Schumer got the vote wrong How to end election wars MORE (DN.Y.), which sets the Senate agenda, Sanders said, “Sen. Schumer and I have been talking about it for several months.

Sanders declined to characterize Schumer’s response, telling reporters to ask the New York senator.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharTrump, Obstacles Loom for Senate Election Reform Talks Senate Panel Advances Bill Targeting Apple, Powering Google’s App Store Hillicon Valley – Presented by Cisco Media Divided Over Big Tech MORE Bill (D-Minn.), who joined Sanders in unveiling a drug pricing measure on Wednesday, also called for debate in the Senate.

“How are you going to know if we don’t have the debate?” she said. “How are you going to know if we vote and vote and vote on the same thing every day?”

Sanders and Klobuchar’s bill would reduce prices paid by Medicare for drugs to levels paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sanders sought unanimous consent to introduce his bill on Wednesday, but it was blocked by the senator. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoCongress should close the book on the failure of the minimum tax on the books (R-Idaho), who said it would hurt drug company innovation and noted that it had not been approved by the Senate’s due process.

A different version of drug pricing legislation, allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for some older drugs, was included in Build Back Better after months of negotiations with more moderate Democrats such as Sen. Kirsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaWhere Chuck Schumer got the right to vote wrong America’s New Politics: Match or Pay the Price (Arizona.).

But Democrats are growing increasingly eager to act on one of their key campaign promises as November’s midterm elections approach.

Last month, a group of 40 House Democrats also called for “swift” action on drug prices.

Democratic leaders argue a deal on a new version of Build Back Better can still be hammered out, which would have a much better chance of becoming law given it would use the fast-track process known as reconciliation to get around a filibuster. of the Senate.

“I think it’s no secret that for five months, with the exception of the infrastructure bill, we haven’t met the needs of the American people,” Sanders said.

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