Government

Sen. Chuck Grassley more optimistic about passage of plan to lower prescription drug costs

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, takes notes as he listens to a question in a town hall meeting in February 2016 at the Mare
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, takes notes as he listens to a question in a town hall meeting in February 2016 at the Marengo Public Library. (The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Since the proposed legislation got a shot in the arm from President Donald Trump, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is more optimistic about passage this year of his bipartisan plan to lower prescription drug prices.

To get it to the floor of the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, however, he’ll have to persuade Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“It’s my job to make the leader of the Senate comfortable in bringing it up,” Grassley said Tuesday about his Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act. “I don’t think he really wants it brought up.”

Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, made clear he’s not blaming McConnell. The GOP caucus is split “more against my bill than in favor.” So Grassley needs to win over some colleagues.

Grassley tweeted earlier this week that the bill got a boost from Trump’s “recognition of my work in his State of the Union address. We are gaining many new co-sponsors/supporters + will reintroduce our updated bipartisan bill soon.”

Among those new co-sponsors is Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Grassley thinks he can continue to build support for the bill — if not because it is good legislation, then because it has political implications.

“It’s going to be a very major political issue in 23 Senate elections where Republicans are up,” Grassley said. “I think that brings enhanced political importance to this as well as saving the taxpayers’ money and reducing drug costs for our consumers.”

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It’s a concern for Iowans, said Grassley, who has started his 40th year of 99 county meetings. He had 12 town hall meetings last week, “and this issue still comes up.”

“So I’m hopeful that Congress can rise to the occasion and make medicine more available at a lower price for our consumers,” he said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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