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 BurgessOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Juul pitched products to Native American tribes | Vaping execs deny deliberately targeting young people | Republicans seek hearing on Medicaid block grants Overnight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers Lawmakers express alarm over rise in cocaine overdose deaths 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 McKinleyMLB, Congress play hardball in fight over minor leagues Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill 'Minor league cities' need new federal partnership MORE (W.Va.), Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler releases new ad targeting Sanders's 'socialism' The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats reckon with Sanders's rise House Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid MORE (Ga.) and Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHouse Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid Lawmakers grill Census Bureau officials after report on cybersecurity issues Conservative lawmakers warn Pelosi about 'rate-setting' surprise billing fix 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 CarterLoeffler works to gain traction with conservatives amid Collins primary bid Republicans came to the table on climate this year Republicans storm closed-door hearing to protest impeachment inquiry 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 WaldenLawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing Overnight Energy: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative GOP climate plan faces pushback — from Republicans 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.”