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White House pushes for health-only budget package post-Manchin

The White House on Monday called for senators to move forward with a slimmed-down, health care-only reconciliation package before their August recess, saying that Democrats are “on the cusp” of beating the pharmaceutical industry. 

“The president’s going to continue to work with Congress to make sure that we’re lowering costs for the American families like prescription drugs, for example. And if we are able to do that, we are on the cusp…to making a really winning against one of the wealthiest, special interest groups, which is Big Pharma,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. 

“All of these things are important to note and again, we’re just going to continue doing the work,” she added. 

Biden on Friday told senators to move forward with a health care-only budget reconciliation package after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) struck a blow to his agenda over its tax and climate provisions, which Biden said he will address through executive action. 

Manchin had said that if Democrats move the budget reconciliation bill in August, he will only support a provision to lower prescription drug prices and a two-year extension of expiring health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.  

“You saw the President’s statement just recently, if the Senate doesn’t act on that, and doesn’t take action on climate, he has a contingency plan which is using his executive authority to make sure that we take on climate, climate change in a way that’s going to be effective,” Jean-Pierre said on Monday. 

Jared Bernstein, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, said earlier in the briefing that Biden has made it a goal of tackling the high cost of prescription drugs when he was vice president. 

“That just resonated with him, I think probably ever since he’s been aware of the issue, and achieving that would be an absolutely landmark goal,” Bernstein said. 

Schumer is pushing to move the reconciliation package to the floor before September, to align with when states plan to announce premium increases under the Affordable Care Act next month.   

Bernstein also touted Biden’s legislative experience, saying he would work to get the best deal possible and would seek a new path if one is cut off.

“Joe Biden is someone who’s been pulling legislative rabbits out of hats for 30 for three or four decades now. And he’s going to continue to do so,” he added. 

Source: The Hill

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