Neal has received over $670,000 in campaign cash from pharmaceutical companies since 2007, according to Kaiser Health News
Following the lead of pharma-friendly Rep. Richard Neal, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee this week crushed several progressive amendments to a House drug pricing bill that would have expanded the number of medicines covered by the legislation and extended lower costs to the nation’s tens of millions of uninsured.
The Intercept reported Wednesday that Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, warned his Democratic colleagues against offering any amendments to the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 (H.R. 3) during the committee’s markup of the legislation on Tuesday.
“The chances that the typical patient will see their prices lowered are akin to winning the lottery. Is it so burdensome to ask that a few more drugs be done? No, it’s not.”
—Rep. Lloyd Doggett
“We intend to stick with the measure in front of us,” Neal told The Hill.
But Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), the author of a more ambitious drug pricing bill that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in April brushed aside in favor of the more moderate H.R. 3, introduced amendments anyway during the marathon hearing.
If adopted, Doggett’s amendments would have raised the minimum number of drugs the government would be required to negotiate under the legislation from 35 to 50 and guaranteed that the approximately 30 million people without health insurance in the U.S. would benefit from the lower negotiated rates.
“The chances that the typical patient will see their prices lowered are akin to winning the lottery,” Doggett said. “Is it so burdensome to ask that a few more drugs be done? No, it’s not.”
Despite Doggett’s plea, most House Democrats on the committee followed Neal’s lead in rejecting the amendments. The legislation passed out of the Ways and Means Committee late Tuesday by a vote of 24-7-1, with Doggett the lone member voting present.
Under the current version of H.R. 3, it would take the government over 100 years to negotiate lower prices for all of the prescription drugs covered by Medicare, Doggett said in a document summarizing his issues with the bill.
“My objective is not to let the perfect get in the way of the good, but to ensure that the good we seek actually reaches those whom we serve,” Doggett wrote in a Dear Colleague letter (pdf) in September. “In short, more work and amendments are needed to make H.R. 3 effective in achieving our shared objective of lowering drug prices for American families.”
Today the Ways & Means Committee is voting on amendments to the Dem drug pricing bill.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett wants to see it strengthened, pointing out it:
✔️applies to less than 1% of drugs
✔️does nothing for the uninsured
✔️keeps the noninterfence clausehttps://t.co/7eUX5RFCCi pic.twitter.com/WQmETqYDIa
— Emily Kopp (@emilyakopp) October 22, 2019
The Intercept‘s Aída Chavez reported that Neal “is one of the biggest beneficiaries” of campaign cash from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.
“According to Kaiser Health News,” Chavez noted, “he’s received $670,100 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies since 2007.”
Chavez’s colleague Ryan Grim was among those noting that Neal is currently facing a primary challenge from his left flank:
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) October 24, 2019
Donald Shaw, reporter with the investigative outlet Sludge, highlighted the slew of major pharmaceutical companies that have donated to Neal just this year:
Some of the pharmaceutical company PACs Neal has taken $$ from so far this year:
-Eli Lilly $5k
-Vertex Pharma $2.5k
-Biomarin Pharma $2k
— Donald Shaw (@donnydonny) October 23, 2019
As Common Dreams reported in June, progressives accused Pelosi of cutting them out of negotiations over the details of H.R. 3 and warned the bill would be far too soft on the pharmaceutical industry.
“If we don’t address this in a big and bold way, a lot of us should go home and start knitting,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters at the time.
Progressives were ultimately able to win minor concessions from leadership, such as raising from 25 to 35 the minimum number of drugs the government must negotiate under the bill.
When Pelosi finally unveiled the H.R. 3 in September, advocacy groups cautiously applauded the measure but said improvements would be necessary to make a significant dent in soaring drug prices.
“Fundamentally, high medicine prices are rooted in the monopoly powers our government grants to prescription drug corporations,” Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program, said in a statement. “Making medicine affordable for everyone requires that we challenge this power.”
GOPer Collins battered for demand to postpone Trump impeachment so he can get caught up: ‘Collins doesn’t do his homework’
On Saturday, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee made a demand to the Democrats that they postpone Monday's hearing on the impeachment of Donald Trump, saying he needed more time to digest a fifty-plus page report that Democrats released over the weekend.
After tweeting out his demand -- as well as issuing a statement -- the voluble Trump defenders was hammered on his own Twitter feed with commenters telling him do his job and read the report in the meantime.
After Collins tweeted, "Chairman Nadler has no choice but to postpone Monday’s hearing in the wake of a last-minute document transmission that shows just how far Democrats have gone to pervert basic fairness," he got buried in derision.
Trump’s damage to the federal government is driving voters to turn to more liberal candidates: report
According to a report from Politico, Donald Trump's tenure has not resulted in voters becoming more conservative, and instead, he is driving them into the arms of more liberal and progressive candidates at the local level who are then using their newfound power to change Democratic policies at the national level.
Trump's negative influence is turning into a positive for those candidates -- particularly in the big cities.
"From New York City to Los Angeles, many of the nation’s biggest cities have turned even harder to the left under President Donald Trump, putting pressure on local officials to embrace the leading progressive presidential candidates — or withhold their endorsements entirely for fear of antagonizing newly energized activists," the report states. "It’s a drastic political shift in some places, where for decades entrenched party bosses crushed any signs of life on the left or tended to put the weight of big-city institutional support behind Democratic establishment-oriented candidates."
‘Not true’: Manic GOPer Mark Meadows shut down by CNN’s Bash for repeating lie about Ukraine
A fifteen-minute CNN interview with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) wound down to an abrupt end on Sunday morning as the "State of the Union" host Dana Bash cut off the Trump defender's insistence there was no quid pro quo offer from the president to Ukraine's leadership, with the CNN host telling the GOP lawmaker, "That's not true. I don't want to debate about it."
In an interview where Meadows continued to rage about former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter, Bash finally brought up Trump's phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to the impeachment inquiry.
Discussing the call where Trump asked for a favor, Meadows pushed back after she said Trump, "Allegedly held up aid and he said it in this phone call."