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Democrats Taking Key Leadership Jobs Have Pocketed Millions From Pharma

Three of the lawmakers who will lead the House subsequent 12 months as Congress focuses on skyrocketing drug prices are among the many greatest recipients of marketing campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical trade, a brand new KHN evaluation exhibits.

On Wednesday, House Democrats chosen Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland to function the following majority chief and Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina as majority whip, making them the No. 2 and No. three strongest Democrats as their get together regains management of the House in January.

Both lawmakers have obtained greater than $1 million from pharmaceutical firm political motion committees up to now decade. Just 4 members of Congress maintain that distinction, together with Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, whom Republicans selected as the following House minority chief earlier this month.

Adding Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat anticipated to be the following speaker, the three-person House Democratic management staff has collected greater than $2.three million complete in marketing campaign contributions from drugmakers because the 2007-08 election cycle, in response to KHN’s database.

High drug costs surfaced as a serious marketing campaign situation in 2018. With nearly half of Americans saying they were worried about prescription drug costs final summer time, many Democrats advised voters they’d deal with the difficulty within the subsequent Congress. But the massive amount of cash going to key Democrats, and Republicans, raises questions on whether or not Congress will tackle the pharmaceutical trade.

In the previous decade, members of Congress from each events have obtained about $81 million from 68 pharma PACs run by staff of firms that make medicine and trade commerce teams.

Brendan Fischer, who directs federal reform applications on the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, stated drugmakers, like different rich industries, “shower money” on congressional leaders who’re mulling laws that might have an effect on the pharmaceutical trade.

“Both Democrats and Republicans have discussed taking action on prescription drug prices, and drug companies likely expect that big contributions will help them maintain access to, and influence over, powerful lawmakers,” he stated.

McCarthy, who has shut ties to President Donald Trump, has obtained greater than $1.08 million from drugmaker PACs since 2007. According to the newest knowledge, which runs via September, he obtained about $250,000 this election cycle.

The fourth lawmaker to high $1 million is Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican who serves on each the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Senate Committee on Finance. North Carolina can be house to plenty of analysis universities and drugmakers’ headquarters.

While marketing campaign contributions could seem tantalizing as a metric for affect, industries usually are not essentially shopping for votes with their money. More possible, they’re shopping for entry — a large donation from a drugmaker’s PAC could improve the probabilities its lobbyists get a gathering with an influential lawmaker, for instance.

Clyburn, who like Hoyer has served as a high Democratic chief since 2007, has obtained extra from drugmaker PACs over the previous decade than some other member of Congress — greater than $1.09 million. During the 2018 election cycle, he obtained at the very least $170,000, regardless of trouncing his Republican opponent in his safely Democratic district.

A celebration chief and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, Clyburn has had ties to the pharmaceutical trade through the years. In 2013, he was a featured speaker at a conference hosted by PhRMA, the trade’s main commerce group. The convention was held at the James E. Clyburn Research Center on the Medical University of South Carolina, a hub for biopharmaceutical analysis.

This fall, Hoyer topped the million-dollar mark in drugmaker PAC contributions over the previous decade, amassing greater than $1.02 million since 2007 and greater than $128,000 this election cycle.

“Mr. Hoyer’s positions on legislation are based on what is in the best interest of his constituents and the American people, and he has made it clear the new Congress will tackle rising health care and prescription drug costs,” stated Mariel Saez, a Hoyer spokeswoman.

Clyburn, McCarthy and Pelosi’s workplaces didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Pelosi, in distinction to her deputies, has obtained almost $193,000 complete from drugmaker PACs the previous decade. In the month earlier than the midterm elections, she intensified her requires motion to regulate drug costs, saying on Election Day that she believed Democrats may discover “common ground” with Trump on addressing the issue.

Senior committee members additionally have a tendency to attract enormous sums from the industries they oversee. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the Democrat who is expected to chair the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, obtained almost $169,000 this election cycle from drugmaker PACs, in response to KHN’s database. Since 2007, he has collected greater than $840,000.

Similarly, Rep. Greg Walden, the Oregon Republican who’s ending his time period as chair of the committee, obtained $302,300, essentially the most of any member this election cycle in contributions from drugmaker PACs.

By distinction, Rep. Elijah Cummings — the Maryland Democrat who is predicted to move the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — has attracted minimal drugmaker money, receiving simply $18,500 because the 2007-08 election cycle. He has made it clear that he intends to focus on pharmaceutical firms subsequent 12 months as he investigates climbing drug prices.

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