House Dem chairmen to meet with progressives amid drug pricing divisions

House Dem chairmen to meet with progressives amid drug pricing divisions
© Greg Nash

Two key House Democratic committee chairmen will meet with progressive House Democrats next week amid divisions in the party over how to craft their signature legislation to lower drug prices, according to House Democratic aides.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care: Insurance lobby chief calls Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad' | Trump officials appeal drug price disclosure ruling | Study finds 1 in 7 people ration diabetes medicine due to cost House Democratic chairman launches probe of e-cigarette makers Lawmakers criticize EPA draft rule for curbing rights to challenge pollution permits MORE (D-N.J.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Trump argues NY tax return case should take place in DC NY files motion to keep Trump tax returns lawsuit out of DC court MORE (D-Mass.) will meet with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus next week to discuss legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Lawmakers in the Progressive Caucus have been pushing for what they view as a bill that is tougher on drug companies, from Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Speaker Pelosi, seize the moment to make history on drug pricing House Democrats sue Treasury to turn over Trump tax returns MORE (D-Texas), which would strip a company of its monopoly on a drug if it refused to negotiate the price with the government.

But Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCutting tariffs is better than cutting payroll taxes to boost the economy Pelosi speaks with Israeli president after Trump controversy In debate over internet speech law, pay attention to whose voices are ignored MORE’s (D-Calif.) office is working on a competing plan that would use an outside arbitrator to set the price if negotiations fell through, a system that some progressives view as too weak.

The meeting could allow the powerful chairmen to discuss the differences of opinion on drafting the legislation with the progressive lawmakers.

A House Democratic aide said the chairmen would not be presenting a plan at the meeting and instead would be listening to gather input from lawmakers about how to craft legislation for Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Lowering drug prices is one of House Democrats’ top priorities, one that Pelosi frequently touts as part of the party’s focus on kitchen table issues. But Democrats have yet to unveil their signature legislation on the topic, leading some progressives to grow impatient about the pace of action on a core priority.

Complicating the situation, Pelosi’s office is also in talks with the White House about lowering drug prices, something that some progressives also view with skepticism.

Pelosi expressed optimism about reaching a deal with President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE on lowering drug prices in an interview with Time magazine on Tuesday.

“In our conversations, [at a] staff level, and my conversations with him I think we can find a path do that,” Pelosi said.