Biden spending framework leaves out Medicare negotiating drug prices

The framework of a deal on President BidenJoe BidenNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Clyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes Overnight Defense & National Security — US delivers written response to Russia MORE's social spending package unveiled on Thursday does not include allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, leaving out a major Democratic priority.

A senior administration official told reporters there were not enough votes among Democrats to pass the policy.

"[President Biden] has spent countless hours over the last several weeks discussing this topic with members of Congress and trying to secure a deal," the official said. "But at the end of the day, there are not yet enough votes to get something across the line that will deliver what the American people need and expect on prescription drugs."

ADVERTISEMENT

The absence of drug pricing in the package is a major failure for the party on one of its key campaign pledges, and an area where leaders like Biden and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill Man seen wearing 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt on Jan. 6 pleads guilty to trespassing Democrats should ignore Senators Manchin and Sinema MORE (D-Calif.) had repeatedly vowed to take action.

Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaThe names to know as Biden mulls Breyer's replacement Poll: Sinema approval higher among Arizona Republicans than Democrats Schumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' MORE (D-Ariz.), as well as a small handful of House Democrats, were seen as obstacles to passing the policy.

As rumors circulated about drug pricing provisions being dropped or watered down on Wednesday, vulnerable House Democrats urged their party to keep a strong provision in, noting they campaigned on it.

"All of us would love to be able to go back to our districts and say, 'Hey this is something we campaigned on that we delivered,'" said Rep. Susan WildSusan WildTo boost economy and midterm outlook, Democrats must pass clean energy bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Marking the Jan. 6 'chaos and carnage' Overnight Defense & National Security — Nation marks 1 year since Capitol riot MORE (D-Pa.), speaking of other front-line members in competitive districts.

Now, because of objections from a small minority of Democratic lawmakers, the drug pricing provision is being left out.

ADVERTISEMENT

The proposal is extremely popular with voters. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll this month found that 83 percent of the public support allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.

Lawmakers had expressed hope in recent days that they would be able to find a compromise on a narrowed version of the drug pricing measure. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Democrats urge Biden to get beefed-up child tax credit into spending deal Overnight Energy & Environment — High court will hear case on water rule Democrats face scaled-back agenda after setbacks MORE (D-Ore.) said in recent days he would not accept a "fig leaf" on drug pricing and would insist on a strong measure.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money — No SALT, and maybe no deal Menendez goes after Sanders over SALT comments It's time for the Senate to vote: Americans have a right to know where their senators stand MORE (I-Vt.) has also made lowering drug prices a top priority for the package.

Reps. Scott PetersScott H. PetersOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Bipartisan lawmakers announce climate adaptation bill Desperate Dems signal support for cutting Biden bill down in size MORE (D-Calif.), Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceRapper French Montana talks opioid epidemic, immigration on Capitol Hill Five takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill Dems brace for score on massive Biden bill MORE (D-N.Y.) and Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderHouse passes bill to strengthen shipping supply chain Five takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill House passes giant social policy and climate measure MORE (D-Ore.) voted against a drug pricing proposal in committee last month, warning it would harm innovation from drug companies to develop new treatments. They pushed an alternative, much scaled-down measure.

The absence of drug pricing measures in Biden's new spending framework is a major victory for the pharmaceutical industry, which fought hard against the proposal with lobbying and a seven-figure ad buy, and has long been a powerful force in Washington.

Drug companies warned that regulation of their prices would harm their ability to do research and bring new treatments to market.