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 CollinsPruitt sworn in as EPA chief Comey meets Intel senators amid uproar over Trump-Russia ties EPA breaks Twitter silence to congratulate new head MORE (Maine), Chuck HagelChuck HagelWho will temper Trump after he takes office? Hagel: I’m ‘encouraged’ by Trump’s Russia outreach Want to 'drain the swamp'? Implement regular order 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 ReidIf Gorsuch pick leads to 'crisis,' Dems should look in mirror first Senate confirms Mulvaney to be Trump’s budget chief Democrats declare victory after Puzder bows out 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 McCainTrump’s feud with the press in the spotlight Republicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy Graham: Free press and independent judiciary are worth fighting for 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 McConnellRepublicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy Americans brimming with optimism on the economy McCain hopes Americans can be confident GOP-controlled Congress can investigate president 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.