Democrats are bracing for a battle to put the price of insulin in their climate and health care bill as they prepare for a long night of voting on Saturday.
They included a provision to limit the price of insulin in their legislation known as the Inflation Reduction Act, which Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin negotiated together. Democrats hope their legislation would limit the out-of-pocket cost for insulin to $35.
But Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough issued an advisory against a provision that would ensure drug companies would discount Medicare if the price of drugs exceeded inflation.
Democrats hope to pass the bill through a process called budget reconciliation, which will allow them to pass it by a simple majority. Should the bill pass this process, they could avoid a Republican filibuster as the Democrats only have 50 Senate seats with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker.
The Senate MP must determine whether aspects of the legislation are budget-relevant or an “extraordinary matter”. If she rules that some of the legislation doesn’t pertain to the budget, Democrats will vote on the amendment during the “vote-a-rama,” where a series of amendments are voted for the bill.
If the MP opposes the insulin aspect of the legislation, Republican senators could table a point of order on that amendment, which would take 60 votes to win, which in turn would mean Democrats need ten Republicans. would have for the insulin provision of their legislation.
Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, who will be re-elected this year, has made cutting the cost of insulin a key issue in his campaign against Republican Herschel Walker.
“This is not about the parliamentarian,” he told reporters on Saturday. “The Senate is, no matter how it governs. Let’s be very clear. If this is not done tonight, it will be because people have put politics down for the people they were sent here to represent.”
Mr Warnock said every Democrat was on board and noted how his insulin legislation was twofold. He also added that people have already blocked that legislation.
“Why did they do that? What does that mean for the people themselves’, he says.
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin said there has been no discussion of a floor vote, adding that Republicans have not had any discussion about insulin either.
“So there are no rumours. But I hope I mean there’s clearly a lot of twofold work done on the measure that Susan Collins led the way,” she told reporters.
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse wasn’t so confident: “I’d love to say yes, but there’s enough mischief here that it’s hard to be sure.”