Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday threatened to kill a bipartisan bill to stop Democrats from passing a reconciliation bill to lower drug prices, The Associated Press reports.
McConnell threatened to hold the United States Innovation and Competition Act, a bill that would invest in U.S. tech industries to bolster American competitiveness against China, hostage even though it passed the Senate in a 68-32 vote.
“Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill,” McConnell tweeted on Thursday.
Both chambers of Congress have passed versions of the bill, which would prove over $50 billion in incentives to boost computer chip manufacturing, but the two chambers are negotiating over the differences in the bills.
Reconciliation talks back on:
McConnell’s warning came as Democrats have revived talks about passing a party-line budget reconciliation bill to lower drug prices. Sen. Joe Manchin shut down negotiations last year after balking at Democratic demands but he and Schumer have discussed a slimmed-down version of the bill which would allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and roll back tax cuts on the wealthy.
Manchin has supported the prescription drug plan but has complained about other measures Democrats want, including funding for climate change programs.
But it remains unclear if Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who balked at some tax hikes on the wealthy and the scope of the prescription drug measure, would go along.
The White House accused McConnell and Republicans of effectively helping China by “holding hostage” a popular bipartisan bill.
“Senate Republicans are literally choosing to help China out compete the U.S. in order to protect big drug companies,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “This takes loyalty to special interests over working Americans to a new and shocking height. We are not going to back down in the face of this outrageous threat.”