Republicans successfully challenged the repeal of Democrats’ climate and health care legislation that capped insulin prices at $35.
Democrats want to include a cap on insulin prices in their proposed legislation called the Reducing Inflation Act of 2022. In addition to provisions to curb climate change, Democrats hope to use the legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
But Senator Elizabeth MacDonald issued guidance saying the price caps do not comply with budget adjustment rules that allow the Senate to pass legislation by a simple majority. Democrats have only 50 Senate seats and want to avoid a Republican filibuster.
In turn, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, raised procedural issues on insulin, saying it violated the Congressional Budget Act, which The Act sets out what may be included in a settlement bill. That requires it to get 60 votes to stay in the bill.
But seven Republicans voted to keep the clause in the Democratic legislation, like every Democrat, three short of what was needed to keep it. Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, John F. Kennedy of Louisiana, Lisa Both Murkowski and Alaska’s Dan Sullivan joined the Democratic Party.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, urged Republicans to keep it in the legislation.
“We have an opportunity to make a difference here and cap the price of insulin to $35 a month permanently,” she said. “It will save money, it will save lives. It shouldn’t be a hard vote.”
The lead sponsor of the insulin cap, Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, told reporters before the vote that the Senate, not lawmakers, was to blame.
“It’s up to the Senate tonight. Whatever she thinks, it’s not up to the MPs,” he said before a vote on the amendment on Saturday night.
The vote to remove the amendments comes at the end of the “vote rama,” which occurs during the budget reconciliation when senators vote on a series of amendments, usually for ten minutes each. But with many senators not at their desks, votes on the Reducing Inflation Act have been much slower.
Most Democrats have proposed a united front, even opposing legislation they support, as a way to keep their caucus together rather than alienate any one member.
The move also comes after Senate lawmakers issued guidance saying part of the legislation requiring drug companies to rebate Medicare if they raise drug prices above inflation does not comply with budget adjustment rules.