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 BurgessTrump officials propose easing privacy rules to improve addiction treatment House approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran 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 McKinleyBipartisan former EPA chiefs say Trump administration has abandoned agency's mission Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill Divisions emerge over House drug price bills MORE (W.Va.), Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe Collins seeks appointment to Isakson seat MORE (Ga.) and Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump The Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan 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 CarterPolling director: Young voters swayed by health care, economy, gun control The Hill's Morning Report - Can Trump save GOP in North Carolina special election? The Hill's Morning Report - Congress returns: What to expect 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 WaldenHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe Democrats hold first hearing in push for clean energy by 2050 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.”