The Vermont Independent’s comments come after Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a key Senate centrist, told the White House that she was opposed to the hundreds of billions of billions in drug prices proposed by House Democrats Could raise dollars to help fund Biden’s party bill. A number of House MPs – most of whom have received significant donations from the pharmaceutical industry and represent districts where drug companies employ thousands of people – are concerned about the impact of the bill on the development of new medicines and therapies, and are attacking Arguments of the industry itself is pushing for advertising campaigns.
Opposition from House and Senate centrists was enough to threaten the broader spending package that the Democrats are trying to pass along party lines in the coming weeks. First, Democratic leaders must reach an agreement between progressive and centrist members of the party on an overall price and framework for the bill in the hope that it will allow movement in Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure package.
“I will fight for the strongest legislation we can,” said Sanders when asked what he could ultimately accept on drug pricing. “I think I’ll start calling out some of these members of Congress.”
Sanders made the remarks at his second press conference this week, held when the president’s multi-trillion-dollar agenda stalled – mainly because of confusion over what was important moderates like Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin (DW .Va.) Will ultimately accept.
Manchin has expressed support for drug price reform and has praised the idea when protesters recently kayaked to his houseboat. But he has repeatedly said that he will only accept a price of $ 1.5 trillion on the bill, or $ 2 trillion less than the figure that House and Senate Democrats have been working with for months.
“It doesn’t make any sense that we don’t go out and negotiate,” Manchin told reporters this week about drug pricing. “The [Department of Veterans Affairs] does a great job there. Medicaid does. Why isn’t Medicare working? “
Sanders held another press conference Wednesday to scold both Manchin and Sinema for keeping up the party’s spending bill. He repeated much of the same frustration on Friday, refusing to answer questions about reducing the overall price of the legislation or reducing its size in order to appease the moderates.
When asked if he should sit down with the two centrists to sort things out, Sanders said, “This is not a movie.”
“I’m not here to attack them or question their motives or anything,” he said. “Manchin’s views, I know, are different from mine.”
“But what I’m trying to say … It’s just not fair, not right for a person or two to say, ‘My way or the freeway,'” he added.
Alice Miranda Ollstein and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.