By Alex Henderson / AlterNet
On Sunday, August 7, the U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a $750 billion package addressing energy, climate change, health care and taxes. The bill passed 51-50 via the process known as budget reconciliation, allowing the Senate’s narrow Democratic majority to bypass the 60-vote rule of the filibuster. Now, the bill will go to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration, and Democrats are optimistic that it will pass in the House and make it to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
Both of North Carolina’s Republican U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, voted against the bill. Journalist Danielle Battaglia, in an article published by the Raleigh News and Observer on August 8, stresses that they are facing a “vehement backlash” in their state for, during debates on the bill, opposing a proposal to limit how much private insurance companies can charge for the insulin used by diabetics.
“Debate on the bill began Saturday morning and stretched into Sunday,” Battaglia explains. “Senators went back and forth on numerous amendments, but one subjected Burr and Tillis to vehement backlash from their constituents: a $35 cap on insulin from private insurance companies…. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough — who serves as the chamber’s official adviser and rule keeper — deemed an insulin price cap for private insurers a violation of the Senate’s rules for the reconciliation process to pass the bill on a bare majority. Senate Democrats sought to overrule MacDonough’s decision in a vote that needed 60 supporting members.”
Battaglia adds, “The New York Times reported that, despite the rule violation, Democrats ‘dared’ Republicans to vote against the cap by keeping the provision in the bill. Tillis and Burr rarely cave to such political pressure. Both voted against capping insulin costs along with 43 other Republicans, forcing the provision to fail.”
Senate Democrats forced Burr, Tilllis and other Republicans to go on the record about whether or not they believed a $35 insulin cap should be part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — and both of them are being lambasted for, critics say, throwing diabetics under the bus.
“Several people took to social media Sunday and Monday ridiculing the North Carolina Senators for their ostensible apathy toward insulin users,” Battaglia reports. “The posts and tweets were laced with profanity. North Carolina’s Democratic Party spokeswoman Ellie Dougherty capitalized on the social media climate.”
Battaglia quotes Dougherty as saying, “While President Biden and Democrats are working day in and day out to lower the cost of prescription drugs, reduce the deficit and fight rising costs without raising taxes a single penny on middle class families, Burr and Tillis’ vote underscores the GOP’s commitment to protecting Big Pharma and special interests over easing costs for North Carolina families.”
Cheri Beasley, the Democratic nominee in North Carolina’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, was quick to lambast Burr and Tillis on Twitter. On August 7, Beasley tweeted, “Both NC senators just voted against the Inflation Reduction Act, which would lower costs at a time when millions of families are struggling. North Carolinians deserve more. As Senator, I will always fight for the people — not cower to corporate special interests…. Senator Burr and Tillis’ votes today were inexcusable.