Mr. President, I'd like to begin today by talking about the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, the largest mass shooting in U.S. history with at least 59 dead and more than 500 injured, including one Minnesotan who was injured and anoter who lost his life. So I join my colleagues in mourning for the victims and thier families. They are and should be our focus at this time, as well as making sure that those who are hurt get the best medical care that this country can give. But as we look ahead, these events underscore the urgency to continue fighting for funding to better treat mental illness but also for sensible gun safety legislation. And I joined with some of my colleagues the day after the tragedy in Las Vegas to call for those changes. No one policy will prevent every tragedy, but we need to come together on commonsense legislation to save lives.
One place that we discussed this week where we could come together because we have in the past is on background checks. My colleague, Senator Manchin and Senator Toomey, who are two A-rated NRA senators, have already demonstrated that we can find bipartisan agreement on something as straight forward as background checks. I was very pleased that they came together on this legislation, but the fact remains that the Senate's failure to pass that bipartisan compromise was disheartening.
One of the more disheartening days in the Senate because I began that day with the families of the Sandy Hook tragedy--with the parents that had lost their little kids, with the parents that had come to this building to advocate for a bill. The background check bill that they knew wouldn't have saved their child's life, but they knew would have saved others. Because what we've seen with expanded background checks is that it reduces suicide. It reduces domestic homicides by a fairly large number. Our constituents agree that we should be able to find some agreement here, as the numbers have consistently shown that Americans across the political spectrum, including gun owners, support proposals to require background checks by wide margins.
I have a state--like the Presiding Officer's--where there are a lot of hunters. It is a proud tradition in Minnesota. So I look at all of these proposals and I say to myself, does this hurt my Uncle Dick and his deer stand? And for many of the ones that I've looked at, the answer is clearly no--including the background check bill. When I talk to law enforcement in my state, they stress the need to have effective background checks to stop felons, people with severe mental illnesses, and others prohibited under current law from accessing guns. These efforts do not have to infringe in any way on Americans' lawful right to own guns.
Another sensible measure is Senator Feinstein's legislation to close the loophole that allows bump stock devices to convert semiautomatic firearms into weapons that work like fully automatic guns. Law enforcement officers have now recovered 12 of these devices from the Las Vegas shooter's room. I am a cosponsor of that bill, and I am encouraged that some of my Republican colleagues have agreed to look at this. I hope that we can find a path forward in the weeks ahead, not only with regard to this particularly focused bump stock device legislation but also on some of the other bills like the background check bill.
I'm here for another purpose today, Mr. President, and that is that we must get to work on other important business here in the Senate. We need to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program and come together on bipartisan fixes to the Affordable Care Act. No parent should ever have to worry whether their child will have healthcare, but funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, expired over this weekend. CHIP is one of the great bipartisan success stories. Both parties have to come together to support a program that provides healthcare to millions of children. In Minnsota, these funds support coverage for 125,000 children. I heard from the children's hospitals and clinics of Minnesota just last week about many of the families who count on this program. While states like mine are finding ways to make federal funding last a bit longer since ours has also expired. Every single day that Congress doesn't act puts coverage of millions of children at risk. There is already bipartisan work under way to keep this program going. Senator Hatch and Senator Wyden have introduced a bipartisan bill to extend CHIP for five years. In 2015, the last time we renewed this program, it passed the Senate with 92 votes. 92 of 100 votes.
We should demonstrate that same bipartisan spirit again that children in America are counting on. We must act before it's too late or states like mine may be forced to make difficult choices about insurance coverage for some of our more vulnerable constituents. CHIP is one part of our healthcare system that is working. We should be doing everything in our power to protect it. So let's come together and pass this longterm healthcare. The American people want us to work together on bipartisan fixes to the Affordable Care Act. As I said the day it passed, it was a beginning and not an end. Any major piece of legislation like that needs improvements and changes. So let's work together on the bipartisan bills and ideas that have been put forward.
Just like my friend Senator McCain said, we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats. Senator Alexandar and Senator Murray have been holding hearings and discussions on commonsense solutions to bring down insurance costs over the past month. We had governors here, and there were actually more Republican governors in the room that Democratic governors as they embraced these suggested changes, which include reinsurance. And I note Senator Collins and Senator Nelson, Republican and Democrat, have a bill together that would do something on that front. You look at what's been done in Alaska. I see my colleague Senator Murkowski here. What has been done in Minnesota when it comes to reinsurnace. And we've seen some rates go down, not to where we need them to go, but there has been a decrease in the amount of the rates. And we would like to see that on a national basis. And that's why I'm such a strong supporter of Senator Alexander and Senator Murray's work.
Finally, we need to do something on the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. People like Kim, a policewoman from Minnesota. That's why I think we should have Medicare Part D negotiations. I have a bill that now has 30 cosponsors, that lifts the ban that makes it illegal for 41 million seniors to negotiate the prices of drugs. Seniors can be a pretty stubborn and very vocal group. Why don't we let them unleash their power and allow Medicaid to negotiate prices. Senator Grassley and I have a bill to stop pay-for-delay where major pharmaceutical companies are paying off generics to keep their products off the market. I have a bill with Senator Grassley and Senator Leahy and Senator Lee. The four of us led the bill, the CREATES Act, which makes it easier to get more generic competion in the market. And we also--Senator McCain and Senator Lee and I--have bills that allow for drugs to come in to compete more competition to bring the price down. When four of the top best-selling drugs in America, the prices have gone up over 3400 percent, I don't think we can sit here and do nothing. I bring up these because for the most part they're bipartsan. The work of Senator Alexander and Senator Murray, the work of bills to do something on prescription drugs.
Let's get moving on that. Let's reauthorize CHIP. The last time it passed the Senate with 92 votes.
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.