Senate GOP blocks Medicare Part D negotiation bill

Senate Republicans Wednesday blocked legislation that would allow the government to negotiate drug prices for the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Democrats fell four votes short of the required 60 to invoke cloture. Six Republicans, Sens. Norm Coleman (Minn.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsOPINION: Congress should censure Trump for his unfit conduct No. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act isn’t over MORE (Maine), Chuck HagelChuck HagelSpy agencies changed rules, making it easier to unmask members of Congress Pentagon withholding nuclear weapons inspection results: report Lobbying World MORE (Neb.), Gordon Smith (Ore.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Arlen Specter (Pa.), crossed party lines.

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In the end, the vote was 55–42 after Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOPINION | 5 ways Democrats can win back power in the states THE MEMO: Trump's base cheers attacks on McConnell It's time for McConnell to fight with Trump instead of against him MORE (D-Nev.) sided with the Republicans for procedural reasons. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (D-S.D.) and John McCainJohn McCainBush biographer: Trump has moved the goalpost for civilized society White House to pressure McConnell on ObamaCare McCain: Trump needs to state difference between bigots and those fighting hate MORE (R-Ariz.) did not vote.

The bill would have lifted a prohibition on such negotiations and opened the door to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make deals with the pharmaceutical industry.

The House passed a stronger version of the legislation earlier this year, which would have made such negotiations mandatory. The White House said Bush would veto either version of the bill.

Republicans hailed the vote as a victory for seniors.

“Today the Senate protected healthcare access for tens of millions of seniors as well as price negotiations to ensure they pay the least amount of money for the prescription drugs they need,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump’s isolation grows Ellison: Trump has 'level of sympathy' for neo-Nazis, white supremacists Trump touts endorsement of second-place finisher in Alabama primary MORE (R-Ky.) said.

He added that the bill would do “nothing” to provide seniors with a better drug benefit.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Tuesday predicted the cloture motion would fail, citing the influence of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.