The comments from the Vermont Independent come after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), A key Senate centrist, told the White House she opposed the drug price proposals drafted by House Democrats , who could raise hundreds of billions of dollars to help fund Biden’s party line bill. A number of House moderates – most of whom have received substantial donations from the pharmaceutical industry and represent districts where pharmaceutical companies employ thousands of people – also express concern over the impact of the bill on the drug industry. development of new remedies and therapies, echoing the arguments of the industry itself pushing in advertising campaigns.
Opposition from the House and Senate centrists was enough to threaten the broader spending agenda, which Democrats are trying to push along party lines in the weeks to come. First, Democratic leaders need to get an agreement between progressive and centrist party members on a global price and framework for the bill, hoping it will move Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure package forward.
“I’m going to fight for the strongest legislation possible,” Sanders said, when asked what he could ultimately agree to on the price of drugs. “I think I’ll start calling some of these members of Congress.”
Sanders made the remarks at his second press conference this week, held as the president’s multibillion-dollar program remains at a standstill – largely because of confusion over what moderates keys like Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) ultimately accept.
Manchin voiced his support for drug pricing reform, praising the idea when protesters recently kayaked to his houseboat. But he has said on several occasions that he will only accept a price of $ 1.5 trillion for the bill, which is $ 2 trillion less than the figure with which the Democrats in the House and Senate have worked for months.
“It makes no sense that we are not going out to negotiate,” Manchin told reporters this week on the price of drugs. “The [Department of Veterans Affairs] does a wonderful job there. Medicaid does. Why not health insurance? “
Sanders held another press conference on Wednesday to berate Manchin and Sinema for delaying the party line spending bill. He echoed much of the same frustration on Friday, refusing to engage on questions of lowering the overall price of legislation or downsizing to appease moderates.
When asked if he should sit down with the two centrists to work things out, Sanders said, “This is not a movie.”
“I’m not here to attack them or question their motives or anything,” he said. âManchin’s opinions, I know, are different from mine. “
âBut the point I’m trying to makeâ¦ It’s just not right, not right, that one or two people say, ‘My way or the highway’,â he added.
Alice Miranda Ollstein and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.