Democrats managed to hold onto a slim majority on Capitol Hill after November’s election, but that margin has only narrowed in subsequent months.
This has made it increasingly difficult for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to pass controversial partisan bills — and three members of her own party united to deal her a legislative defeat this week.
“Vote to continue to conversation”
According to The Hill, moderate Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Scott Peters (D-CA), and Kathleen Rice (D-NY) all oppose H.R. 3, a bill that supporters claim will lead to lower prescription drug costs.
Under the provisions of the legislation, the secretary of Health and Human Services would be empowered to negotiate with prescription drug manufacturers for lower prices.
Of course, opponents say such a move could stymie research. Schrader, for example, warned that it would kill the “jobs and innovation that drives cures for these rare diseases.”
The dissenting Democratic lawmakers are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NY), the panel’s chairman, reportedly urged the trio to get on board.
“Vote to move forward today,” he is quoted as telling fellow Democrats on the committee. “Vote to continue the conversation.”
“A cornerstone of the Build Back Better Act”
Pallone’s insistence was apparently not enough to change the three Democrats’ minds, however, and their decision to vote against the bill resulted in a swift backlash from some others in the party.
Patrick Gaspard, who serves as the president of the left-wing Center for American Progress, issued a statement excoriating the three House members.
“Reps. Peters, Rice, and Schrader are prioritizing drug company profits over lower drug prices for the American people, particularly for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis,” Gaspard said.
He went on to insist that their opposition “threatens the entirety of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which Democrats have campaigned on for years and that they previously voted for.”
Henry Connelly, a spokesman for the House speaker, vowed that additional attempts to lower prescription drug prices will remain a “top priority” for Pelosi and the Democratic Party, calling it “a cornerstone of the Build Back Better Act.”