In a rare and shocking rebuke of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday, a trio of Democrat lawmakers sided with Republicans to reject a drug pricing control measure contained within the $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending package currently under discussion in Congress, as the Daily Caller reports.
According to the outlet, House Energy and Commerce Committee members Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) defected and joined their GOP colleagues to prevent advancement of legislation designed to allow Medicare to directly negotiate pharmaceutical prices with drug makers and implement a $2,000 out-of-pocket expenditure limit for those who receive Medicare assistance.
As The Hill reported earlier in the week, the moderate Democrats declared their intention to vote as they ultimately did, with the three representatives already having put forth their own pricing legislation that they contended would “preserve innovation” and attract support from both sides of the aisle.
Rep. Schrader said in a statement issued in advance of Wednesday’s committee vote, “We need to be serious about how to address this issue by ensuring we champion legislation with broadly supported policies that have the bipartisan, bicameral backing needed to pass Congress.”
During the markup of the proposal in the committee hearing room, Schrader added, “For many years now, I’ve been committed to addressing drug prices in a meaningful way. Americans, regardless of political affiliation, have made it clear Congress has to actually act and get something done.”
Ranking Republican committee member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) articulated her own reasoning for rejecting the measure, arguing, “America will not win the future if Speaker Pelosi’s socialist price controls were jammed in the Democrats’ reckless tax and spending spree.”
The GOP legislator continued, “It would lead to less innovation, fewer cures, and no hope for many people who deserve a fighting chance at life.”
Pelosi, for her part, was defiant in the face of her colleague’s abandonment of the measure for which she and President Joe Biden have continued to fight, with a spokesperson for the speaker stating, “Polling consistently shows immense bipartisan support for Democrats’ drug price negotiation legislation, including overwhelming majorities of Republicans and independents who are fed up with Big Pharma…”.
While it is encouraging to see this group of Democrats take a stand against a key Pelosi priority, a drug pricing measure akin to the one that went down to defeat in the Energy and Commerce Committee can be reinserted into the massive spending bill after having advanced out of the House Ways and Means panel, and it remains to be seen whether this admirable brand of moderation will continue to win the day.