Schumer: Medicare, prescription drugs hold up final deal

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian Biden administration to release oil from strategic reserve: reports MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters Tuesday that negotiators still haven’t reached agreement on language to expand Medicare benefits and lower the price of prescription drugs, two major pieces of their agenda, but insisted “a final deal is within reach.”

Schumer signaled to reporters that Democrats are much closer to agreement on climate provisions, which he promised would make a “robust” contribution to addressing global warming.

But he acknowledged that two of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions BBB threatens the role of parents in raising — and educating — children MORE’s (I-Vt.) top priorities, expanding Medicare and cutting the cost of prescription drugs, remain unresolved.

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The other holdups are a disagreement over creating a Medicaid-type program to expand health care coverage in states that opted out of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the length of a national paid family leave program and a proposal to empower the IRS to broadly review banking activity to find unreported tax obligations.

“I believe that we will get this done and we will get it done soon,” Schumer said after a caucus meeting. “No one ever said that passing transformational legislation like this would be easy, but we are on track to get it done.

“There is universal consensus in our caucus that we have to come to agreement despite the differences in views on many issues,” he added. “I believe a final deal is within reach.”

Schumer said negotiators are making good progress on the climate provisions, despite a recent decision to drop the $150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Program, which was a top priority of progressives who want to tackle carbon emissions.

“There’s going to be a very strong, robust climate package, and our goal is to meet the president’s goal, and there are different ways to get there,” he said.

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But he acknowledged that the dispute between Sanders and Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinWith extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaWith extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Five Senate Democrats reportedly opposed to Biden banking nominee MORE (D-Ariz.) over expanding Medicare benefits and empowering the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices remains unresolved.

“We’re working on both those issues now. As I said, we’re making progress. We’re not there yet on either of them, but it’s important to do,” he said.

Schumer said earlier in the press conference that expanding Medicare benefits is one of his top priorities, telling reporters, “I believe strengthening Medicare is very, very important.”

Updated at 3:22 p.m.