Key Republican says Dems left him out of process on drug pricing bills

Key Republican says Dems left him out of process on drug pricing bills
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A key House Republican on Tuesday indicated he will not support bills to lower drug prices that will be considered on Wednesday, arguing that Democrats did not include him in the process.

Drug pricing is one of the top areas where lawmakers from both parties think they could work together in a bipartisan way this year. But the comments from Rep. Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessBipartisan House panel leaders ask agencies for maternal mortality data Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders to roll out 'Medicare for all' bill | Dems target Juul over Altria ties | Measles cases spike nationwide GOP rep who supports lowering voting age: 'It's on us' if 16-year-olds vote Democratic MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, indicate that a hearing on the bills on Wednesday will still have some partisan divisions.

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Burgess said Democrats only presented him with the drug pricing bills last week and asked for his support after they were already finished, instead of negotiating with him to compromise on the policy earlier on.

This is disappointing,” Burgess told The Hill. “It could have been much better handled. If you want to be serious about this stuff, don't just ask me to co-sponsor, ask me to help you get the policy right.”

While the top Republicans on the committee are raising objections, there are some Republican lawmakers, including some members of the committee, who do support some of the drug pricing measures to be considered Wednesday.

The bills Democrats are holding a hearing on Wednesday are relatively small measures aimed at lifting barriers to the introduction of cheaper generic drugs that will increase competition.

Democrats hope those measures can move forward with bipartisan support as a first step, and then plan to later move on to bigger-ticket items that are more traditionally Democratic, such as Medicare negotiating drug prices.

For example, one of the most high-profile measures to be considered Wednesday, the Creates Act, which helps ease cheaper generic drugs to market, is co-sponsored by GOP lawmakers including Reps. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyThirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill Divisions emerge over House drug price bills Key Republican says Dems left him out of process on drug pricing bills MORE (W.Va.), Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsProsecutor appointed by Barr poised to enter Washington firestorm The CASE Act is an opportunity for creators to have rights and remedies GOP lawmaker: Mueller should 'come to Congress' MORE (Ga.) and Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - After GOP infighting, Trump Jr. agrees to testify again On The Money: House chairman issues subpoenas for Trump's tax returns | Trump touts trade talks as China, US fail to reach deal | Five things to know about Trump's trade war with China | GOP offers support for Trump on tariffs GOP offers support for Trump on China tariffs MORE (N.C.), the chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

Another measure, the Blocking Act, also seeks to increase competition from generic drugs, and has support from GOP Rep. Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterThirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill Federal board votes to rename Georgia's 'Runaway Negro Creek' to 'Freedom Creek' 3 signs the PBMs are desperately in need of reform MORE (Ga.).

“The American people are demanding that Congress address the soaring cost of prescription drugs, and that’s what we’re doing,” said a Democratic committee spokesman.

“A number of the proposals were introduced with bipartisan support including the Creates Act and the Blocking Act,” the spokesman added. “We look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan way on solutions to reduce the high prices consumers are paying at the pharmacy counter.”

Burgess, though, objected that Democrats did not work with him to make modifications to the Creates Act. Republicans last year worked on modifications to the measure that Democrats dismissed as changes to water down the bill that were backed by the pharmaceutical industry.

“Could we get to the same place? Maybe so,” Burgess said. “I don't think we're there yet.”

Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHere are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag MORE (Ore.), the top Republican on the full committee, shares similar concerns to Burgess.

“Last Congress the Energy and Commerce Committee provided real, bipartisan solutions to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said a GOP committee aide. “Our bills and our hearings – our process – was truly open. We appreciated their input and ideas, and used them. We hope the same courtesy is extended to us when we are working toward shared goals.”