Unless you do not pay attention to the news at all, you know that passing legislation to lower the prices of prescription drugs in the Senate has two main obstacles: in addition to every Republican Senator, there are two Democratic Senators - Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Because of complicated Senate rules, it takes 60 votes to pass most legislation, not a simple majority of 51. And since all 50 Republicans in the Senate refuse to support the legislation that would lower drug prices, Democrats must have all 50 of their Senators vote for the bill to pass it through a special process called “reconciliation.” But Senators Manchin and Sinema have refused to support the current legislation for several reasons.
Last week, however, Senator Manchin said he would support a new bill that included certain things, including legislation to lower drug prices. However, he also said that a completely new bill would have to be written, and that takes a great deal of time – something the Democratic majority is running out of.
President Biden last week said that he is open to breaking up his top legislative initiative, the “Build Back Better” bill, into smaller pieces in order to get some of it passed. That was what Manchin was referring to when he said that one of the things he would support is prescription drug price legislation but in a new legislative package.
Competing with that effort is the need to pass legislation to keep the federal government open past February 18. Both efforts will require a great deal of legislative energy and keeping the government open will take priority since the deadline is less than a month away.
TSCL strongly supports any effort to lower drug prices so we will be pushing for a new bill to accomplish that. In addition, contacting your own Senators and urging them to pass legislation to lower drug prices will have a great deal of impact in this fight.