House commission rejects drug pricing plan over Biden failure

A House committee on Wednesday dealt a ominous setback to President Joe Biden’s social and environmental package by disrupting a money-saving plan that allows Medicare to negotiate the price it pays for prescription drugs.

The House Energy and Trade Committee voted to remove the proposal from Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion 10-year spending plan, which did not come as a fatal blow. A separate House of Representatives Committee on Methods and Tools backed it up with nearly identical drug pricing formulations.

However, the rejection of this provision by one committee underscores the influence that moderates seeking to curb new spending, or any small Democratic group like Biden and party leaders, are trying to push the entire package through a narrowly divided Congress.

Faced with unanimous Republican opposition, Democrats could lose just three votes in the House of Representatives and none in the Senate 50-50 to send the overall score to Biden. This is an unreliable reserve for what will be a huge bill, mixed in with numerous politically sensitive initiatives, spending and taxes.

The pharmaceutical committees voted to have Biden hold face-to-face meetings with two moderate Democratic senators who said the $ 3.5 trillion total proposal was too large. Meetings with Senator Kirsten Cinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia highlighted the White House’s commitment to avoid Democratic defection.

The vote on drug prices in energy and commerce was 29-29, and the Republicans were joined by three moderate Democrats who opposed it: Scott Peters from California, Kathleen Rice from New York and Kurt Schrader from Oregon. One vote in Congress is usually not enough to preserve legislation.

Henry Connelly, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Calif., Said drug price cuts “will remain the cornerstone” of the party in pushing the bill, Biden’s top domestic priority.

Democrats are counting on drug pricing regulations to pay for a modest but significant portion of their $ 3.5 trillion plan to strengthen social safety nets, tackle climate change, and fund other programs. Proponents say it could save $ 600 billion over the next decade.

The legislation will allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies using the lower prices paid in other developed economies as a criterion. The savings will be used to expand Medicare coverage with additional benefits for dentistry, vision, and hearing.

The energy and trade vote highlighted “real concerns about Speaker Pelosi’s extreme drug pricing plan,” Debra DeShong, chief spokeswoman for America’s Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Division, said in a statement. Industry officials say the drug negotiation plan will lead to price controls that will reduce investment in research into promising new drugs and treatments.

Biden met with Sinema Wednesday morning to discuss the total bill and scheduled a later meeting with Manchin. Centrists’ worries over the cost of legislation have sparked a delicate hunt by party leaders for a prominent figure to support moderate and progressive legislators.

Film spokesman John Labombard praised the Senator’s session at the White House, which is a good sign in a process in which progressive and moderate parties have shown conflicting demands.

“Today’s meeting was productive and Kirsten continues to work in good faith with her colleagues and President Biden as this law is developed,” Labombard said.

Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have approved the $ 3.5 trillion figure, but have been more tentative in recent days on the final figure. This huge package is met with unanimous opposition from Republicans, who say its proposals are wasteful and hurt the economy.

The move will push utilities to produce cleaner energy, expand Medicare coverage, create new childcare and family leave programs, and provide free preschools and community colleges.

There will be many tax breaks to help families cope with health care and parenting costs. Much of this will be paid for by raising taxes for the wealthy and corporations.

The two House commissions that voted on Wednesday were among the last of 13 committees to complete work on their individual sections of the overall bill on Wednesday.

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmouth, Kentucky, said in an interview Tuesday that his committee will be ready next week to bring all 13 sections together and submit a joint bill to the House of Representatives. That could be delayed as lawmakers wait for the non-partisan Congressional budget office to prepare cost estimates for the bill, Yarmouth said.

The Senate has yet to draft its own legislation, but Senate leaders and other legislators have been in talks with the House of Representatives. Disagreements persist over taxes, health programs and other issues.

Democratic leaders would like to send the finished bill to Biden for signature in the coming weeks, but many think it will take much longer to resolve the political and political problems the party faces. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that they expect Congress to introduce the bill before an international climate conference in November.

Manchin was a particularly outspoken critic of the bill as a whole. He called for a “suspension” of legislation and on Sunday said he could not support $ 3.5 trillion, proposing instead a cap in the $ 1 trillion to $ 1.5 trillion range.

Advocates of progress, who initially demanded a $ 6 trillion plan, said cutting the package to the Manchin range would be unacceptable.

In the House Committee on Ways and Means, Democrats, led by Chairman Richard Neal, Massachusetts, rejected Republican amendments aimed at preventing tax increases for the rich and corporations that would roll back tax breaks introduced in 2017 under then President Donald Trump.

The income package for this group includes $ 2.1 trillion in higher taxes, mostly for the wealthy and corporations. He also argues that the savings are being made by formulating drug pricing, strengthening IRS tax laws, and arguing that the legislation itself will drive economic growth.

Democrats ridiculed this claim when Republicans used it to state that past GOP tax cuts would be paid.

Democrats will raise the maximum income tax rate to 39.6% for individuals earning more than $ 400,000, or $ 450,000 for couples. For richer Americans with an adjusted gross income of more than $ 5 million a year, an additional tax of 3% will be imposed.

For large businesses, this proposal will raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 26.5% on companies’ annual income in excess of $ 5 million.

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