OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suffered an embarrassing defeat this week after three moderate Democrats revolted and sunk her prescription drug plan.
The Democrat-backed legislation to lower drug prices was defeated in a House committee after three moderate Democrats voted against their own party’s measure.
Democratic Reps. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Scott Peters of California, and Kathleen Rice of New York voted against the plan to allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, The Hill reported.
But it is more than just a blow to Pelosi’s ego – Democrats were trying to use their legislation, in part, to pay for the $3.5 trillion spending bill they are trying to ram through Congress.
After the measure was struck down, Pelosi spokesperson Henry Connelly said:
Polling consistently shows immense bipartisan support for Democrats’ drug price negotiation legislation, including overwhelming majorities of Republicans and independents who are fed up with Big Pharma charging Americans so much more than they charge for the same medicines overseas.
Delivering lower drug costs is a top priority of the American people and will remain a cornerstone of the Build Back Better Act as work continues between the House, Senate, and White House on the final bill.
Liberals immediately attacked the three moderates Democrats and accused them of being beholden to the pharmaceutical industry.
“Reps. Peters, Rice, and Schrader are prioritizing drug company profits over lower drug prices for the American people, particularly for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
“To the contrary of what they contend, their opposition to the drug’s proposal threatens the entirety of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which Democrats have campaigned on for years and that they previously voted for,” he added.
West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin also gave Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats the news they did not want to hear.
On Sunday, he said that he cannot support the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.
“We don’t have the need to rush into this and get it done within one week because there’s some deadline we’re meeting or someone’s going to fall through the cracks,” he said during an interview on the NBC show “Meet the Press.”
“I want to make sure that children are getting taken care of, that people are basically having an opportunity to go back to work. We have 11 million jobs that we haven’t filled, 8 million people are still unemployed. Something’s not matching up there,” he said.
When he appeared on the CNN show “State of the Union,” he told host Dana Bash that he did not support the timeline the Democrats want.
He said that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “will not have my vote, and Chuck knows that.”
Manchin has expressed his reservations about the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill in the past.
“I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs,” the senator said.
“This is even more important now as the Social Security and Medicare Trustees have sounded the alarm that these life-saving programs will be insolvent and benefits could start to be reduced as soon as 2026 for Medicare and 2033, a year earlier than previously projected, for Social Security,” he said.
“Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation. A pause is warranted because it will provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory or not,” Manchin said. “While some have suggested this reconciliation legislation must be passed now, I believe that making budgetary decisions under artificial political deadlines never leads to good policy or sound decisions. I have always said if I can’t explain it, I can’t vote for it, and I can’t explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion.”
“An overheating economy has imposed a costly “inflation tax” on every middle- and working-class American. At $28.7 trillion and growing, the nation’s debt has reached record levels. Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more than $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Now Democratic congressional leaders propose to pass the largest single spending bill in history with no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt, or the inevitability of future crises,” Manchin said.
He added: “Those who believe such concerns are overstated should ask themselves: What do we do if the pandemic gets worse under the next viral mutation? What do we do if there is a financial crisis like the one that led to the Great Recession? What if we face a terrorist attack or major international conflict? How will America respond to such crises if we needlessly spend trillions of dollars today?”