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D.C. Memo: Phillips says McConnell, Feinstein are reasons to have term limits

Plus: Klobuchar takes victory lap on Biden drug plan, lawmakers enjoy beefcake at the fair

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

WASHINGTON – Rep. Dean Phillips may feel a slide in popularity among his colleagues when they return from their summer break soon.

Phillips, D-3rd District, who launched a campaign this summer urging younger Democrats to challenge 80-year-old President Joe Biden, named Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a post that urged the adoption of  term limits, which are deeply unpopular among many lawmakers.

Phillips posted his call for term limits on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, after McConnell, 81, froze during a press conference for the second time in just more than a month.

“For goodness sake, the family, friends, and staff of Senators Feinstein and McConnell are doing them and our country a tremendous disservice,” Phillips wrote. “It’s time for term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court, and some basic human decency.”

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While Phillips said he supports term limits, he was skeptical they could be imposed.

“While a huge majority of Americans (including me) favor term limits, it would require amending our Constitution and support of 2/3s of the US (sic) House and Senate, and 3/4 of State legislatures – all voting against their own self interests. You think that’s gonna happen?” Phillips wrote.

There have been many failed attempts at establishing term limits in Congress. This year, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced legislation that would amend the U.S. Constitution to limit Senators to two six-year terms and members of the House to three two-year terms after the date of its enactment. Phillips, who is serving his third term in Congress, would be barred from running for re-election if that effort were successful.

Rep. Dean Phillips
Rep. Dean Phillips
Several lawmakers who promised voters they would self-limit their time in office have broken their promise. For instance, Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc., recently said he would run for re-election for a sixth two-year term despite a promise when he first ran not to serve for more than a decade in Congress.

Phillips, 54, has repeatedly called for older politicians to stand down and let younger people take their place.

Yet McConnell’s health has become a focus of concern among many lawmakers, although few other than Phillips and Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga., have publicly said the Senate GOP leader should step down.

After being asked at an event in Kentucky on Wednesday if he was running for reelection in 2026, McConnell froze for about a half-minute. In July, he suffered a similar episode at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol.

McConnell’s office said both episodes were caused by lightheadedness and that the senator would consult a doctor. Questions about McConnell’s health began after he fell in March and suffered a concussion.

Klobuchar helps broadcast Biden drug plan

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., took a victory lap this week as President Biden unveiled the first 10 prescription drugs that will be subject to price negotiations between pharmaceuticals and Medicare.

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The Inflation Reduction Act, which was approved along party lines last year, allows Medicare for the first time to negotiate drug prices, something private insurers have done for decades. Klobuchar has tried for years to win approval for legislation that would address the high cost of medicine. She made the rounds of media outlets this week to praise the Biden administration for taking action.

“This announcement could not come sooner,” she said on a Zoom event with the AARP. “What good are treatments and cures if they are unused because people can’t afford them?”

The first 10 drugs that will come under negotiations include Eliquis, made by Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is used to prevent blood clotting and the risk of a stroke, and Embrel made by Amgen, which is used to treat plaque psoriasis.

Jardiance, Xarelto, Januvia, Farxiga, Entresto, Imbruvica, Stelara and Novolog are also on the list.

Medicare patients who enrolled in the program’s “Part D” would be the ones who would benefit from the price cut, but they would not see any savings until 2026.

Klobuchar said 120,000 Minnesotan enrolled in Medicare’s Part D would benefit. She said patients who are now taking one of the drugs on the list are now paying an average of $415 to $6,300 a month for their medications.

Klobuchar also said the Biden administration expects to add another 15 drugs to their list of negotiated pharmaceuticals next year.

“We will keep adding more blockbuster drugs,” she promised.

Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing back on the Biden administration’s initiative, which has proven popular in the polls. They are working to persuade Americans that the Biden plan will stifle innovation and lead to price controls.

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Drugmakers are also attacking the Biden plan through court challenges.

Too much fun

While Klobuchar has had a high profile this week touting the Medicare drug initiative, she has also provoked a lot of attention – and some raised eyebrows – by posting a photo of herself at the Minnesota State Fair with a group of bare chested, tattooed, and muscular firefighters.

“State Fair pro tip: You don’t want to miss the Minnesota Firefighters at the @MNAFLCIO,” Klobuchar posted on X.

Her idea caught on, like well, wildfire. Soon afterwards, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-5th District, had her photo taken with the first responders at the AFL-CIO booth. Then Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., posted a photo being carried by two firefighters.

“Thanks for the pro tip Amy – they really swept me off my feet,” Smith said in her post.