(DCWatchdog.com) – Expressing frustration at the Democrats’ failure to pass the Build Back Better Act, Senator Bernie Sanders said it is time to force votes on critical aspects of the agenda, beginning with reducing the cost of prescription drugs.
Speaking to reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, he said, “I think people are very impatient and not happy with where we are right now,” adding it wasn’t “just members of the Senate.”
He continued his remarks, stating that Congress started with a “strong agenda that was very popular” but had not done anything “great” or addressed the “needs of the American people” for five months “with the exception of the infrastructure.”
Sanders’ comments follow months of stalled and failed negotiations with Democratic Senators over President Biden’s signature social spending program, Build Back Better. The bill is meant to combat climate change and fund health care reforms, child tax credits, paid family leave, and free pre-kindergarten.
Given the precarious majority the Democrats hold in the Senate, they would need all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to support the $2 trillion package. But Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia killed the legislation in December when he expressed concerns for inflation and national debt.
Determined to pass the legislation, Democrats have been exploring possible next steps. On Wednesday night, alongside Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sanders took to the Senate floor to force debate on new legislation introduced by the pair. The legislation would empower Medicare to pay the same prices for prescription drugs as the Department of Veterans Affairs. They believed it would lower prescription drug costs for millions of Americans.
To proceed with the consideration of their legislation, the pair asked for unanimous support but were shut down by Republican Senator Mike Crap of Idaho, who objected.
Undeterred, Sanders said he wouldn’t give up; instead, saying, “What I believe we have to do now is take the components of Build Back Better, starting with prescription drugs, bring it to the floor, start debate, and we’ll see where we go.”
He concluded his remarks saying that the American people don’t care about what the Senate is working on at the moment, pointing to a vote for an “assistant secretary of something today,” saying, “The American people are not staying up nights worrying about that. They’re worried about prescription drugs. They’re worried about climate. They are worried about home health care.”