Joe Manchin says cutting drug prices is the 'one thing' Democrats must achieve in 2022. Bernie Sanders agrees.

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Joe Manchin grimacing
Sen. Joe Manchin at a Congressional hearing last month.Greg Nash - Pool/Getty Images
  • Manchin provided fresh hope to Dems that he can be brought onboard a party-line bill.

  • He said cutting drug prices is "the one thing that must be done."

  • Manchin triggered progressive ire given his opposition to Build Back Better, which contained the measure.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia gave fresh hope to Democrats that he could strike a deal to secure a key slice of their agenda.

"Drug pricing is something we all agree on," he said at a West Virginia AARP event on Tuesday. "If we do nothing else this year — I think we can do a lot more — but if we do nothing more this year, that's the one thing that must be done."

He reiterated his support to lower drug prices in what could form a last-ditch party-line bill that can pass without GOP votes. "The waiting game is over. The time to act is now," he said at the event.

Manchin later tweeted in favor of capping the cost of insulin at $35 per month and paving the way for cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada. Democrats have long pledged to rein in the cost of prescription drugs, and there is a swelling desire among vulnerable lawmakers to pass measures providing financial relief to Americans hit with rising prices.

That drew some support from one of Manchin's progressive rivals, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. "Sen. Manchin is right," he wrote on Twitter. "Let's cut drug prices in half by strengthening the provision in the House-passed Build Back Better legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices like the VA has done for years, and pass the whole package with 50 votes next week."

It comes as Manchin is in the midst of private negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to see if an agreement can be struck to dislodge the stalemate on President Joe Biden's economic agenda. The conservative West Virginia Democrat tanked the Democratic megabill at the end of last year and the party hasn't tried reviving it since.

Other progressives lambasted Manchin for voicing support on the drug pricing measure after blocking the larger Build Back Better bill, which included a similar initiative. "You literally killed the bill to do this," Rep. Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter.

A top aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont also assailed Manchin as well, calling him a "phony" on Twitter. A spokesperson for Manchin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The White House is embarking on a renewed push to address inflation, which is at its worst level in four decades. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Monday, he called tackling inflation his "top economic priority."

Read the original article on Business Insider