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Thune Values Senate Rules More Than Insulin Users’ Pocketbooks and Well-Being

You can’t have affordable insulin because Senate rules are more sacred than your health and financial security… and because Republicans are petty partisans:

GOP senators sought to blame Senate procedure for their move to kill a proposed monthly cap of $35 for insulin.

The response came after 43 Republicans voted against the measure, causing it to drop out of the huge spending bill that passed the chamber on Sunday.

…[Senator Ron Johnson said,] “In reality, the Dems wanted to break Senate rules to pass insulin pricing cap instead of going through regular order. They put this in a bill it wasn’t allowed in, all for show.”

…Similarly, Senate Minority Whip John Thune told reporters ahead of the vote that Democrats “wanted to tempt us to, I guess, vote against it.”

…While they were correct that the measure was deemed ineligible under the 50-vote rules, neither Johnson nor Thune acknowledge that the measure could have been kept anyway had 10 Republicans wanted to support it [Tom Porter, “Republicans Cite Shaky Argument on Senate Procedure for Killing a $35 Cap on Insulin in Major Spending Bill,” Business Insider, 2022.08.08].

The Democratic health care/climate change bill still includes a $35 cap on insulin costs for Medicare recipients. The $700-billion bill—which is fully paid for and reduces the deficitpassed the Senate yesterday and now moves to the House, which is not burdened with the anti-Democratic filibuster rules that Johnson and Thune used to kill the broader insulin price cap proposed by Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia.

The high price of insulin is a real problem. If Thune, Ron Johnson, and other Republican Senators are serious about both Senate rules and their desire to relieve families of the backbreaking cost of this life-saving drug, they could easily ask Senator Warnock to reintroduce his broad insulin price cap as a standalone bill and show us all the Republicans who would vote for it. Surely a “pro-life” party could find at least ten Senators to support such a vote.


  1. Donald Pay 2022-08-08 11:09

    Ron Johnson is a waste of a Senate seat. Hopefully, Mandela Barnes will take that seat away from him in November. Still, Johnson has a point. I see no reason that you can’t shame a few more Republicans into supporting that bill under regular order. I think small bills are the way the system is supposed to work. These big bills hide a lot of stuff that are questionable. If more people took the Jon Stewart 2×4 approach to forcing the fight right at the greedy, scheming special interests, we might see them become a little less obstinate.

  2. O 2022-08-08 11:44

    If Senate Democrats put the $35.00 insulin cap as a stand alone bill up tomorrow for a straight up or down vote, the GOP would vote it down again for the exact same partisan zero-sum reason. Dysfunctional government is their platform; their partisan power-holding interests come before the nation’s.

  3. leslie 2022-08-08 12:01

    “The American people are clear about their priorities,” McConnell said in a statement insisting that Americans don’t care about the environment. “Environmental regulation is a 3% issue.” As people in his state are still burying the drowning victims, McConnell argued that what they are really worried about is “inflation, crime, and the border.”

    It’s all lies and distortions, of course. (Thune’s boss, of course.)

    GOP’s “partisan power-holding interests come before the nation’s.”


  4. Loren 2022-08-08 12:31

    John Thune will do what he is told to do, full stop. If he were to upset his daddy, Mitch, he might not get invited to the photo ops. He is a pretty boy, empty suit chameleon, and that is about as nice as I can put it on a family forum!

  5. larry kurtz 2022-08-08 13:23

    Republicans love death panels? Who knew?

    Analysis has revealed that consumption of sugary drinks results in some 25,000 deaths in the United Snakes and 184,000 deaths worldwide each year.

    How Coca Cola, Archer Daniels Midland, and News Corpse have fattened themselves and us on sugar water is patently offensive and criminal. Drilling for the petroleum to make containers that end up in landfills is malicious and hateful especially when exposure to plastic can cause hormone changes that can lead to gender dysphoria.

    In South Dakota, victims of the high suicide rate are acceptable losses for the revenue generated by the state’s addiction to gambling yet expanding Medicaid is socialism.

  6. jerry 2022-08-08 14:37

    “Johnson has a point”, “shame a few more republicans”. dude, you must be in the bag to think that. These fascists have no points and they certainly have no shame.

  7. Donald Pay 2022-08-08 15:15

    jerry, I take as my starting point the 99.99% of people don’t have a clue what’s in that bill. That’s because in these big bills, they hide a lot of stuff they don’t want you to know about. Because Manchin was finagling this, I can guarantee he got a big pot of money for stuff that would face tougher scrutiny if he had to face regular order. I know there was a lot of socialism for the nuclear industry, one of Manchin’s pet industries. The fact is Republicans got shamed into backing off their position on the burn pit bill. It takes a lot to shame them, but if you do it like Jon Stewart does, it works.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2022-08-08 15:53

    As a insulin consumer, I can tell you the price of insulin, for millions who must use it, is a scandal. Insulin is the same now as it was 50 years ago, though Big Pharma has found ways to juice it with time release formulas and fancy injection systems. The insulin remains insulin, a simple commodity. It’s like Coca Cola, 5 cents worth of sugar and water sold for a dollar a bottle or more.

  9. O 2022-08-08 16:22

    Leslie, and to be sure that we keep focused on the economy, the Republicans keep crashing it! THEN keep pointing at the flames to keep our attention away from any other issue.

  10. jerry 2022-08-08 16:41

    We taxpayers pay millions each year for staff to read this bills and to negotiate them for these guys and gals. The fact is, none of these senators ever “read” these bills. That’s up to the staffers. There is no shame, only pollsters. You give these folks way too much credit for what little they do. The one thing that fascist senators do well is talking points. Damn, those guys have that stuff down. They stay in lockstep.

  11. Eve Fisher 2022-08-08 17:02

    Epi-pens and insulin, two things you’ll die without – so the GOP solution is to let the price skyrocket to give their lobbyists a hefty profit.

  12. O 2022-08-08 20:04

    Eve, excellent reminder that this is not about some force of nature of prices just going up, this is about corporations/shareholders profiting from the medical needs of others. Again, a consequence of viewing health care as a commodity and not as a right.

  13. jakc 2022-08-08 20:05

    Donald Pay

    I think small bills are the way the system is supposed to work. These big bills hide a lot of stuff that are questionable.

    Most states have a constitutional clause like SD
    One subject expressed in title. No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.

    State courts routinely refuse to enforce the one subject rule. It may be a good idea but is impossible to enforce

  14. Drey Samuelson 2022-08-09 00:28

    Don–I agree with everything you wrote above except that “state courts routinely refuse to enforce the one subject rule”–maybe they refuse to enforce the one subject rule for legislation, but they certainly did enforce it last year when it came to Amendment A (recreational marijuana), which voters passed by a margin of 54%-46%. Aggravating is the fact that ballot initiatives are **supposed** to be viewed as co-equal with legislation.


  15. Donald Pay 2022-08-09 11:52

    Drey, that was jakc’s statement, not mine. I agree with you that legislators often do not follow the one subject rule, and there is never an consequence. In 1988 we had two initiatives on surface mining—one on reclamation and one on a groundwater protection fund. We did this because of the one subject rule.

  16. grudznick 2022-08-09 12:12

    Perhaps it is because the legislatures can understand that sometimes potential multiple law bills need to come as a package, where if law bill 1A and 1B pass, then 1C must also pass or horrible abominations will occur. In those cases, which are almost never related to surface mining or sewage ash, the legislatures know to just pile it all into one law bill, pass or fail.

    The general public is not capable of understanding complex matters like this so the measures, heinous and initiated, must be very simple for them to consume, else you get stuck with things like the Measure initiated as number 22, which was unworkable and foisted upon us by big out-of-state dark-money interests.

  17. jakc 2022-08-09 19:06

    You point out part of the problem with court enforcement. When courts do enforce it, it is often hard to distinguish whether the court is acting for legal reasons and not politcal reasons.

    Don, I can assure you legislators often get tired of leadership ignoring rules and pushing various subjects together in order to pass something at the end of the session.

    and Grudz, by legislature I think you mean legislative staff. I mean, it’s not unknown for a legislator to understand a bill, but ….

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-10 05:37

    To be particular, the problem is not so much that the courts refuse to enforce the single-subject rule but that they have rarely been offered the chance to enforce it.When’s the last time anyone brought a Legislatively approved statute to court for a single-subject challenge?

  19. jakc 2022-08-11 18:53

    the issue may not have come up in SD recently, but it has in Iowa where the Iowa Sipreme Court essentially eviscerated any future challenges. I suspect the reason it doesn’t come up is that most litigants don’t expect the courts to do anything. Just look at the average number of bills passed during a session that seem to violate the rule and the number of challenges that could be filed. Courts don’t wsnt to deal with that

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