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Centrist Democrats scramble House drug pricing effort

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A trio of centrist House Democrats threw their party's health care agenda into disarray Wednesday by blocking a plan that would have authorized direct government negotiation of drug prices and help pay for a $3.5 trillion social spending bill.

Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) joined Republicans in voting against leadership-backed drug pricing language at the end of a three-day House Energy and Commerce Committee markup of the sweeping package. The 29-29 tie vote meant the provision could not advance.

While top Democrats believe they can restore the policy later in the legislative process, the public standoff on the House Energy and Commerce Committee underscored the significant hurdles ahead in securing the near-unanimous support Democrats will need to advance the bill.

Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) made multiple appeals to the centrists to support the drug pricing language, saying it was essential to negotiating a final package with the Senate.

Pallone also stressed that Democrats were unified in supporting the same drug pricing provision when it first came up for a vote in 2019. Peters previously told POLITICO he supported the bill because he knew it wouldn’t pass the Senate and simply wanted to advance the debate on the issue.

The moderates' stand could complicate Democrats’ push to reform a slew of federal........

© Politico

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