WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) will deliver the following remarks this morning, expressing his concern with the policy and rushed process of Speaker Pelosi’s plan, which is being considered at the full committee markup.
As Prepared for Delivery
Today should be a celebration of yet another Energy and Commerce Committee bipartisan effort to achieve meaningful change in public policy that will become law.
Today, we should be achieving our shared and worthy goal: lowering the price of prescription drugs while encouraging further innovation in new life-saving cures.
But, unfortunately for the American people, legislative efforts to do just that were abruptly ended when the Speaker’s office seized control.
Instead we were served up a pre-baked bill.
Instead we got one hearing in one subcommittee where Republicans got to pick one witness. And despite pledges and promises to follow regular order and mark up this far-reaching bill in both subcommittee and full committee, even that promise has now been broken.
It really is a shame. It didn’t have to be this way. Unfortunately, the nasty politics of prescription drug pricing has overtaken the real reform we would have achieved, working together.
Here is what we are left with: the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reviewed Speaker Pelosi’s bill and determined it will prevent the development of new cures. In fact, CBO estimated up to 15 new medicines will never get invented.
What if one of those was the cure for ALS or Alzheimer’s? What if one brought relief to sufferers of arthritis and another the cure for childhood cancer? Truth is none of us knows which cure or which medicine will never get invented or approved. But what we do know is up to 15 – and some of us believe many more – will never enter or leave a lab or a trial or find their way to a sick or dying patient.
One new cure stopped is one too many.
Rushing H.R. 3 has already resulted in drafting errors as reported today. And now, we’re making decisions on four additional bills, three of these were introduced only last week and in one case, only on Tuesday. No hearings. No subcommittee markups. No commitment to regular order.
I know neither the chairman nor the subcommittee chairwoman likes to operate this way. I know they know we have the ability to pass enduring and life-changing law.
We worked together to pass the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016 and the FDA Reauthorization Act in 2017, which was responsible for a new record 1,171 generic drugs approved in FY 2019. We worked together to pass more than 50 measures to tackle the opioids crisis. We found common ground to solve the surprise medical billing problem.
In April, our committee voted to advance seven bipartisan bills to lower drugs costs, including the CREATES Act, that speeds up generic entry to market.
Then everything changed. When these bills came to the floor, they were saddled with poison pills by Speaker Pelosi that killed this committee’s bipartisan work.
Last week, several of our Democratic colleagues raised similar concerns about the failure to produce bipartisan legislation to lower drug costs. This coalition of House Democrats called for the Speaker to bring bipartisan drug pricing bills to the floor without any poison pills.
While I agree and appreciate their overture, I won’t hold my breath. We could have worked together and found common ground and brought real reform to the drug sector and real savings to American consumers. We share that goal. But that’s not what will happen today.