Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) on Thursday praised the deal Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reached on a reconciliation bill that modestly addresses climate investments and lowers prescription drug prices as a “major step forward.”
Appearing on CNN, Jayapal said she believes “there’s a real deal here” after a year of back and forth negotiations.
Jayapal touted the deal’s provisions, which include giving Medicare the latitude to negotiate down prescription drug prices and extending some key Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years.
“So this is a massive step forward and I’m excited to see the next pieces of it, including the full text and the process going forward,” Jayapal said.
Weeks before Schumer and Manchin reached a deal, the centrist senator killed a version of the bill after weeks of negotiations. Jayapal at the time reacted to the development by criticizing Manchin as “not a real Democrat.”
Asked whether she still holds that view of Manchin, Jayapal said that Capitol Hill is always changing and that she’s found it’s important to “roll with whatever comes your way.”
Jayapal then reiterated that the reconciliation deal is a “massive step forward” and that’s where the focus should be as it goes before the full Senate.
“We have an opportunity now to make historic investments in climate, in health care, in prescription drug pricing. I mean, nothing we have ever done before has allowed Medicare to negotiate prescription drugs,” Jayapal said. “So while there is a lot that was left on the cutting room floor, the reality is this would be a massive accomplishment and it would help the American people.”
Jayapal said that although she believes that “we would be in better shape” if the deal had been reached in December, she is happy that Manchin is at the table now.
Schumer and Manchin unveiled the deal on Wednesday. In addition to its climate and prescription drug price provisions, the bill also will invest “$369 billion in Energy Security and Climate Change programs over the next ten years” and will place a 15 percent minimum corporate tax on companies of $1 billion or larger.
It is currently unclear, however, which drugs Medicare will be able to negotiate down. Additionally, the climate provisions are broad, with the bill summary casting them as a “historic down payment” to “reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.”
The bill also does not appear to address the State And Local Tax (SALT) deduction cap.
Jayapal has been a vocal critic of Manchin for being one of two centrist senators who have held up the package. Last December, Jayapal called on President Biden to use executive action as a last resort after what she deemed as Manchin’s “lack of integrity” after he announced his opposition to the President’s signature Build Back Better reconciliation bill.