- Joe Manchin chided Krysten Sinema on Friday, saying she delayed Democrats' plans to reform drug pricing.
- "We had a senator from Arizona who basically didn't let us go as far as we needed to go," he said.
- He added that he doesn't question senators' intentions, as "everyone's responding to their own constituent base."
Sen. Joe Manchin chided Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Friday, blaming his colleague for holding up Democrats' plans to reform prescription drug pricing.
Democrats are hot off a key victory, with President Joe Biden having signed the Inflation Reduction Act on Tuesday. The sweeping spending package revived some of the White House's goals for clean-energy projects, healthcare reform, and tax overhauls. Yet one of the senators key to passing the package is still lamenting some of the measures that didn't make the final cut.
In a roundtable discussion, Manchin noted that the $35 cap on insulin for private insurance was tossed out by Republicans.
"Then we had a senator from Arizona who basically didn't let us go as far as we needed to go with our negotiations and made us wait two years," Manchin said. "Those type of things … I don't question anybody. Everyone's responding to their own constituent base. But we did get something."
Manchin's statement seems to reference Sinema, the final holdout for the IRA among Senate Democrats who has taken a more moderate stance toward pharmaceuticals reform.
Manchin discussed his thinking leading up to the legislation, which came after the war in Ukraine sent energy prices soaring.
"The BBB was killed, and then we were basically in limbo up until April. It started in April, getting to the point to where inflation was basically killing all of us — every person, man, woman, and child in America. And we have to do that," Manchin, who has been outspoken about the need to reduce inflation and has used it as a reason to not back a larger spending package, said.
Ultimately, the bill passed the Senate through party-line budget reconciliation, with all 50 Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris voting in favor of it. The House affirmed the bill a week ago, also on strict party lines.
Manchin and Sinema were the most significant hurdles for Democrats hoping to pass a slimmed-down version of Biden's Build Back Better spending package. The West Virginia Senator came around in late July after reaching an agreement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to shift the measure's focus toward reducing the deficit and countering inflation.
Sinema remained the sole holdout among Senate Democrats in the following week. The Arizona senator had previously balked at closing a tax loophole that largely benefitted private equity and hedge fund managers. Sinema joined her 49 Senate peers in support of the plan in early August after Democrats agreed to scrap the tax-code update and keep the loophole.