Health and Science

GOP Sen. Grassley says Mitch McConnell sabotaged support for his drug pricing bill

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) talks with reporters as he heads for a meeting at the Capitol October 02, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is responsible for his colleagues' apparent lack of enthusiasm about his bipartisan bill to lower drug prices.

When asked by reporters during a briefing why more Senate Republicans haven't supported the legislation, the Senate Finance Committee chairman said because McConnell "asked them not to."

"The president wants it!" Grassley said, according to a recording of the briefing.

Grassley and McConnell have reportedly been at odds over the bipartisan measure, which has support from President Donald Trump and many Senate Democrats.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for McConnell directed CNBC to a report where McConnell is quoted saying the Senate's path forward on drug costs is still "under discussion" and he is "looking to do something on drug pricing."

Grassley and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden, of Oregon, advanced the broad drug pricing bill through committee in July. Looking to gain more Republican support, the lawmakers unveiled a revamped version of the bill earlier this month. The bill would make changes to Medicare by adding an out-of-pocket maximum for beneficiaries and capping drug price increases at the rate of inflation, among other measures.

Senator Chuck Grassley weighs in on what Congress is doing to fight the rising cost of prescription drugs
Sen. Grassley weighs in on what Congress is doing to fight the rising cost of prescription drugs

High health-care costs have become a rare bipartisan issue, drawing support from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the Trump administration.

The House last week approved Speaker Nancy Pelosi's sweeping drug pricing legislation, which would allow the U.S. government to negotiate lower prices for certain drugs. That bill is also unlikely to be taken up in the Senate, where McConnell has previously ruled out any action on it.

This week, lawmakers tacked on numerous health-care provisions to a year-end spending bill that funds the federal government through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it's expected to pass later this week. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump intends to sign it into law.