Biden’s initiative hit a bump when fellow democrats Joe Manchin (D – West Virginia) and Krysten Sinema (D- Arizona) opposed it on grounds of a huge public spend and subsidising the drug prices by taxing the rich and wealthy.
They both patched up with sen majority leader Schumer after he accepted their amendments to the Biden act setting the pace for passage of the bill.
The new agreement, made in private between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), is undergoing a “Vote-a-Rama” in the Senate over the weekend, in which lawmakers have been able to propose amendments to the bill.
Sanders, who unsuccessfully proposed three amendments, voiced his concerns about the legislation in a speech from the Senate floor Saturday evening.
“I want to take a moment to say a few words about the so-called Inflation Reduction Act that we are debating this evening,” the progressive Democrat said early in his 38-minute speech.
“And I say ‘so-called,’ by the way, because, according to the CBO and other economic organizations that study this bill, it will, in fact, have a minimal impact on inflation,” Sanders was quoted by the media as saying.
Sanders once unsuccessfully contested the presidential race, it may be recalled on the support of the youth in America who backed him on his education reforms. .
Democrats have argued that the Manchin-approved deal would decrease inflation and not raise taxes on average people while still tackling parts of the party’s energy, healthcare, and tax reform agendas.
Republicans have argued that the new bill will raise taxes on low-income people and cause a spike in inflation, even if temporarily. Sanders has become a vocal critic of the legislation in recent days.
The Vermont senator praised the bill Saturday for including provisions that would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry but expressed frustration that the changes would not go into effect for four years, at which point only 10 drugs would be covered.
“If anybody thinks that as a result of this bill, we’re going to see lower prices for Medicare, you are mistaken. It ain’t going to happen next year, the year after, or the year after,” he said in his floor remarks.
“And by the way, given the incredible power of the pharmaceutical industry, I would suspect even money that they will figure out a way to get around this provision if it takes four years to implement. So, this provision will have no impact on the prices for those Americans. Furthermore, this provision will have no impact on the prices for Americans who are not on Medicare.”
Calling it an “incredibly tepid bill”, Sanders also bemoaned the legislation’s support for the fossil fuel industry, which he called “a slap in the face to the communities fighting to protect themselves from filthy fossil fuels”.