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Senate Democrats look to move toward a new reconciliation package, as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is expected to submit language to the Senate parliamentarian Wednesday for a proposal to allow Medicare to influence prescription drug prices.
The last time Democrats tried to move forward with a large reconciliation bill, it was shot down by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who felt it was too costly at a time when the country was already dealing with significant inflation. This time around, according to Punchbowl News, Manchin is at least on board with the Medicare prescription drug idea.
A summary of the proposed bill says it affects drug prices “by incentivizing manufacturers and insurers to keep drug prices down, and puts them on the hook for higher drug prices and spending.” It will also include free vaccines for senior citizens and increased money to help pay premiums and co-pays for low-income Americans.
While Schumer may be making progress on that front, however, that does not mean that Democrats will necessarily be able to revive and pass President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” Act, or even a smaller-scale version of it. The Senate leader and Manchin are still discussing other parts of the package like climate change and tax reform, Punchbowl reported.
Last year, Manchin stated that he did “everything humanly possible” to negotiate a compromise with party leaders to come up with a plan that he would be comfortable supporting, but ultimately those efforts were unsuccessful.
Manchin said in December that between ongoing inflation, the national debt, “geopolitical unrest,” and the COVID-19 pandemic, the bill that was being pushed by his fellow Democrats was too much.
“When you have these things coming at you the way they are right now … I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” he said, stating that if he cannot explain to his constituents why he would vote for a bill, then he cannot vote for it, despite all the work he and other Democrats have put into trying to make it work.
Manchin had previously proposed a $1.7 trillion price tag for the spending package, but he said his Democratic colleagues did not make the necessary compromises. He did note that both he and President Biden tried hard to make it work.
“What we need to do is get our financial house in order, but be able to pay for what we do and do what we pay for,” he said.
Even back in December, Manchin said lawmakers should be addressing inflation that has “harmed a lot of Americans.” Since then, the problem has only gotten worse.