Chuck Grassley: Drug pricing reform key to keeping GOP’s Senate majority

Chuck Grassley

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Passing a bill to control drug prices will be essential to Republicans “keeping a majority in the Senate,” Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters Wednesday. But he predicted the task will probably slip into next year.

Grassley said he was optimistic he could sell GOP lawmakers on the sweeping bipartisan bill he and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) developed, even though most Republicans opposed when the Finance committee advanced it on a 19-9 vote this summer. Formal legislative text is expected to be released later today.

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The legislation, which is significantly different than Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug price plan, will probably get pushed to early next year, he said.

“Eventually it will come down to this I think, there are 22 Republicans up for election this year and if it’s like in my state … there is a great deal of disgust with the rapidly increasing prices of drugs and every Republican up for reelection is going to have a place to land and this is the place to land because they are surely not going to land with what Pelosi is doing,” Grassley said.

Grassley said he is communicating with House Democrats to seek a compromise package. Pelosi’s bill contains significant overlap with the Grassley-Wyden bill, but its call for the government to negotiate drug prices is a non-starter for conservatives.

Bipartisan talks, which include the White House, should be able to continue despite the House impeachment inquiry, Grassley said. Pelosi this morning appeared to agree.

“I certainly hope so,” she said. The impeachment inquiry doesn’t “[erase] any concern we might have for America’s working families and their need for lower drug prices”

Adam Cancryn contributed to this report.