Democrats are bracing for a fight to include capping the price of insulin on their climate and health care bill as they prepare for a long night of votes on Saturday.
They included a provision to cap the price of insulin in their legislation known as the Inflation Reduction Act, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin negotiated together. The legislation would cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin to $35.
But Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough issued a guidance against a provision that would cause drug companies to rebate Medicare if it raised the price of drugs higher than inflation.
Democrats hope to pass the bill through a process called budget reconciliation, which would allow them to pass it with a simple majority. Should the bill pass through this process, it would allow them to avoid a Republican filibuster, since Democrats only have 50 Senate seats with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie breaker.
The Senate Parliamentarian must determine if aspects of the legislation are germane to the budget or are an “extraneous matter.” If she rules that a part of the legislation does not relate to the budget, Democrats will have a vote on the amendment during the “vote-a-rama,” wherein a series of amendments are voted for the bill.
The presiding officer could ignore the parliamentarian and decide it complies with rules about budget reconciliation, but that would require 60 votes for the amendment to pass that way, as Roll Call reported.
Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who is up for re-election this year, has made capping the cost of insulin a signature issue in his campaign against Republican Herschel Walker.
“The parliamentarian is not the issue here,” he told reporters on Saturday. “The Senate is, regardless of how she rules. Let’s be really clear. If this does not get done tonight, is because people have put politics in front of the people they were sent here to represent.”
Mr Warnock said that every Democrat was on board and noted how his legislation on insulin was bipartisan. He also added that people have already blocked that legislation.
“Why did they do that? What does that entail for the people themselves,” he said.
Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said there hasn’t been any sort of discussion on a floor vote and added that Republicans haven’t had a discussion on insulin either.
“So there’s no rumors. But I hope I mean, obviously there was a lot of bipartisan work done on the measure that Susan Collins was taking the lead on,” she told reporters.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island was not as confident: “I’d like to say yes but there’s enough mischief around here that it’s hard to be very sure.”