Democrats are gearing up for Saturday’s long voting night to cap the price of insulin in their climate and health care bills.
They included a provision to cap insulin prices in their legislation, the Reducing Inflation Act, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin negotiated together. The legislation caps out-of-pocket costs for insulin to $35.
But Senator Elizabeth MacDonough issued guidance against a rule that would cause drug companies to refund Medicare if it raised drug prices above inflation.
Democrats hope to pass the bill through a process known as budget reconciliation, which would allow them to pass it with a simple majority. If the bill passes the process, it would allow them to avoid Republican obstruction because Democrats have only 50 Senate seats with Vice President Kamala Harris in the tiebreaker.
Senate members must determine whether various aspects of the legislation are closely related to the budget, or whether they are “irrelevant matters.” If she ruled that some of the legislation had nothing to do with the budget, Democrats would vote on the amendment during a “ballot” period, in which a series of amendments were voted in favor of the bill.
The presiding officer can disregard MPs and decide it complies with the budget reconciliation rule, but it takes 60 votes to pass the amendment because roll call report.
Re-elected this year, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock made limiting insulin costs a signature issue in his campaign against Republican Herschel Walker.
“The MPs are not the problem here,” he told reporters on Saturday. “The Senate is, no matter how she rules. Let’s be very clear. If it can’t be done tonight, it’s because people put politics before the people they’ve been sent here to represent.”
Mr. Warnock said every Democrat was on board, noting that his insulin legislation was bipartisan. He also added that people have blocked the legislation.
“Why do they do it? What does it mean to people themselves,” he said.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said there was no discussion of any kind on the floor of the ballot, adding that Republicans had not discussed insulin either.
“So no rumors. But I hope I mean, obviously, there’s a lot of bipartisan work on the measures that Susan Collins spearheaded,” she told reporters.
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was less confident: “I would say yes, but there’s so much shenanigans here, it’s hard to be sure.”