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Deese says new legislation is White House’s ‘single most impactful’ avenue on inflation

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese on Sunday said the White House is hoping to make progress on legislation to lower prescription drug prices and other costs “in the coming weeks.”

Deese stressed to CBS “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan that combating high inflation levels remains the White House’s top economic priority.

“Our focus is on what are the steps, what are the policies, that we can take,” Deese said. “And the single most impactful thing that we could do right now is to work with Congress to pass legislation that would lower the costs of things that families are facing right now.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have been meeting in recent weeks to negotiate over potential legislation to bring down prescription drug costs, a provision originally included as part of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda that ultimately failed when Manchin voiced opposition.

But Democrats are now looking to pass narrower legislation that is politically feasible with the party’s razor-thin majorities in Congress as the midterm elections approach.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Thursday that negotiations over a slimmed-down social spending package, which would also potentially include climate provisions, are “alive” after meeting with Biden and Schumer.

Biden suggested in a sit-down interview with The Associated Press last week that he believed he had the votes to reduce prescription drug costs and provide tax incentives for winterizing homes, which would help lower utility bills amid rising energy costs.

“I believe I have the votes to do a number of things,” Biden said. “One, prescription drugs. Reduce utility bills by providing for — I think we’ll be able to get the ability to have a tax incentive for winterization.”

When Brennan pressed Deese on Sunday over why a vote had not been called if Biden has enough political support to pass the legislation, Deese declined to provide a firm timeline.

“We’re working very closely with congressional leadership, with Senate leadership, on that,” he said. “Sen. Schumer is working with his caucus to try to get a final package in place, and we’re hopeful that we’ll see progress on that in the coming weeks.”

But Deese said the White House is “hopeful” Congress can move a separate package to accelerate U.S. manufacturing of semiconductor chips and other critical supplies before the August recess.

“That would provide some real relief to the economy,” he said.

Deese on Sunday also pushed for Congress to combat inflation by lowering the federal deficit through tax reform. Biden has pushed for a corporate minimum tax of 15 percent.

“If we can do a package like that and we can move forward in the near future, it will not only help in lowering prices, but it will send a signal to the markets and the global economy that the United States is really deadly serious about taking on inflation,” Deese said.

Tags Biden Brian Deese Brian Deese Charles Schumer Competes Act Face the Nation inflation Joe Manchin Margaret Brennan Margaret Brennan Nancy Pelosi prescription drug costs

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