House fails to pass drug bill amid Jan. 6 tensions

Greg Nash

The House on Tuesday failed to pass a previously noncontroversial bill meant to allow more treatments for opioid use to go to market in a sign that tensions over the Jan. 6 insurrection still linger more than four months later.

House Democratic leaders had scheduled a vote on the legislation, titled the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act, under an expedited process for bipartisan measures that requires a two-thirds supermajority for passage.

While the bill previously passed by voice vote last November, on Tuesday night, all but 36 Republicans voted against it.

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), who introduced the legislation, said Republicans voted against it this time because they weren’t named co-sponsors again after voting to challenge the presidential election results on Jan. 6.

“My GOP colleagues just voted against allowing new treatments for opioid use disorder because they weren’t named leaders on the bill. They voted against certifying a fair election after an insurrection because their guy didn’t win. What are they voting for? Their ego?” Dean wrote on Twitter in response to a Politico reporter who first reported on the tensions over the bill.

The previous version of the bill that passed late last year was also introduced by Dean but with GOP Reps. Buddy Carter (Ga.) and David McKinley (W.Va.) as co-sponsors.

The current iteration has only one of the same co-sponsors from last year: Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas).

Carter voted in favor of the challenges to Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s presidential election results, while McKinley did not.

Dean went on to say in a statement that she was “clear with [Carter] that I was not comfortable co-leading legislation with him” after he voted to challenge her state’s election results. 
Dean said that she offered to let Carter be a co-sponsor instead, rather than a lead co-sponsor, but he ultimately turned down the offer. 
“It is unfortunate that politics and the refusal to accept any accountability for the big lie and the January 6th insurrection. But it is even more tragic that the ones who will face the repercussions of this “protest vote” are the people seeking medical help for opioid addiction that would have been helped by the passage of this legislation,” Dean said. 

Carter on Tuesday accused Democrats of trying to “bring cancel culture to the House.”

“I won’t sit silent as Washington Democrats attempt to bring cancel culture to the House. Tonight they chose partisan political games and their Trump Derangement Syndrome over advancing what should have been bipartisan legislation in a bipartisan way. I refuse to apologize for standing up for my values and I’ll never stop fighting to make sure hardworking Georgians are heard on the floor of the House,” Carter said in a statement to The Hill.

Aides to McKinley and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) didn’t return requests for comment.

The legislation would amend the Orphan Drug Act, which facilitates development of so-called “orphan drugs” for rare diseases, by requiring all drugs that secure seven years of market exclusivity to prove that there isn’t an expectation that the manufacturer will recover the costs of research and development through sales.

“Closing this loophole will ensure that products do not receive an unfair market advantage,” Dean said during House floor debate.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that he will schedule the bill for a vote again next week, but under rules that need only a simple majority to pass.

“Americans should be outraged that Republicans blocked passage of this bill over a petty, partisan matter,” Hoyer said. 

Tuesday’s vote is the latest culmination of tensions between Democrats and Republicans over the events of Jan. 6.

Back in February, Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) forced a roll-call vote on a noncontroversial bill to name a Mississippi post office because it was authored by a Republican who voted to challenge the presidential election results.

Tags Buddy Carter David McKinley election 2020 Kevin McCarthy Madeleine Dean Marc Veasey Opioids Sean Casten Steny Hoyer
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