February 6, 2023

Republicans launched a successful challenge to remove a portion of Democrats’ climate and health-care legislation that would have capped insulin prices at $35.

Democrats had hoped to cap the price of insulin in their proposed legislation called the Inflation Cuts Act of 2022. Along with provisions to limit climate change, Democrats had hoped to use the legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

But Parliamentary Senator Elizabeth McDonough issued guidance saying the price cap was inconsistent with budget compromise rules, which allow the Senate to pass legislation by a simple majority. The Democrats only have 50 seats in the Senate, and so they wanted to avoid Republican stalling of their legislation.

In turn, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, made a point of order on the insulin side, saying it would violate the Congressional Budget Act, which governs what can be included in the reconciliation bill. This requires getting 60 votes to stay on the bill.

But seven Republicans voted to keep the clause in Democrats’ legislation, three fewer than needed to maintain the rule, along with each Democrat. Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Cindy Hyde Smith of Mississippi, John F. Kennedy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska joined Democrats.

Democratic Senator Patty Murray, chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, urged Republicans to keep it in the legislation.

“We have an opportunity here to make a difference and permanently limit insulin at $35 a month,” she said. You’ll save money and save lives. This shouldn’t be a hard vote.”

Georgian Senator Raphael Warnock, the main sponsor of the insulin cap, told reporters before the vote that the Senate, not Parliament, was to blame.

That’s up to the Senate tonight. On Saturday evening, before voting on the amendments began, he said that it was not up to the parliamentarian, regardless of her opinion.

The vote to delete the amendment came at the end of the “rama vote,” which occurs during a budget settlement when senators vote on a series of amendments, usually considered for ten minutes per piece. But the vote on the inflation-reduction bill moved at a much slower pace because many senators did not stay in their offices.

Democrats for the most part presented a united front, opposing even legislation they supported as a way to preserve their collective and not alienate any member.

The move also comes after the senator issued directives saying that part of the legislation requiring drug companies to deduct Medicare if they raise drug prices above inflation is inconsistent with budget adjustment rules.

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