Grassley, Ernst opposed Inflation Reduction Act, which includes Democrats' plan to cap insulin prices

·3 min read

Democrats in the U.S. Senate approved sweeping legislation over the weekend targeting health care, climate and tax policy, but Republicans voted against a proposal that would have capped insulin prices for private insurers, arguing it did not meet Senate rules.

Iowa Republican U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst joined every other Republican in opposing the final legislation Sunday afternoon. And although seven Republicans voted with Democrats to preserve the legislation's $35 insulin cap, Grassley and Ernst opposed that as well.

The $750 billion "Inflation Reduction Act" includes record spending on clean energy initiatives, measures to reduce prescription drug prices and changes intended to ensure large corporations pay income taxes.

More: Senate OKs sweeping bill lowering drug prices and promoting clean energy, setting up major Biden win

The bill includes the plan to cap insulin at $35 a month for Medicare patients. But a proposed cap on costs for private insurers was found to be in violation of rules that govern the reconciliation process, which Democrats used to shield the legislation from a Republican filibuster.

Democrats chose to bring that provision up for a vote anyway. Republicans offered an amendment that they argued addressed the pricing issue without violating Senate rules, which Grassley and Ernst voted for. But Democrats rejected it, saying it did not go far enough.

Seven Republicans sided with Democrats to try to keep the original $35 cap in the bill. They were Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

What Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst said about the inflation bill, insulin plan

In an email, a spokesman for Grassley noted that the Democrats' bill did not contain things like accountability or transparency measures for pharmacy benefit managers, which could be addressed in separate legislation. He said Grassley has pursued other avenues to reduce the costs of insulin, including leading a bipartisan investigation into insulin prices with Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Grassley said in a statement Sunday that the legislation is part of Democrats' "anti-energy, anti-growth tax-and-spend agenda" that has fueled record inflation.

"Democrats ignored their own economists when they spent $1.9 trillion to get us in this mess," he said. "Now they’re ignoring independent analyses warning that this bill is going to cause even more pain. This partisan bill, written behind closed doors without any input from Republicans, will raise taxes, cut jobs, kill cures and fuel inflation – all at the worst possible time."

Grassley is seeking a eighth term in the U.S. Senate this fall. His opponent, Democrat Mike Franken, was critical of Grassley's "no" votes.

“Throughout his 47 years in Washington, Sen. Grassley has consistently said one thing and done another, all while claiming he’s 'working' for Iowans," Franken's campaign manager Julie Stauch said in a statement. "Now the more than 240,000 Iowans with diabetes who depend on lifesaving insulin will pay the price through higher costs.”

Ernst, who is not up for re-election this year, said on Twitter that the plan is reckless at a time of high inflation.

"We’re in a recession. Inflation is at a 40-year high," she said. "Do Democrats really think now is the time to raise taxes and spend billions more? Yes, they do. And their reckless #TaxAndSpendSpree is proof."

On a final vote, every Senate Democrat voted for the bill and every Republican opposed it. It now heads to a vote in the Democratic-controlled House, where it is expected to pass as early as this week.

USA Today contributed to this report.

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at bpfann@dmreg.com or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Sens. Grassley, Ernst opposed Democrats' plan to cap insulin prices