Upset by what he saw as “a cynical move” by congressional leaders, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden protested their decision to tie several bipartisan measures aimed at lowering prescription drug prices to proposals to strengthen the Affordable Care Act.
Though the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved the package, the Lewiston legislator said including the ACA provisions killed an opportunity to give the Republican-controlled Senate legislation it might approve.
Golden, serving in his first term from Maine’s politically divided 2nd Congressional District, said Monday that maneuver was “exactly the kind of ‘gotcha’ politics” voters sent him to Washington to combat.
Frustrated by the decision, Golden sent a letter to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and other Republican and Democratic leaders expressing disappointment in the move.
Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pennsylvania, and three Republicans also signed onto Golden’s letter. The Maine legislator said others told him they agreed with him but did not want to risk upsetting the leaders “for fear of consequences.”
Golden said the issues involved were exactly the type that offer hope for bipartisan measures that might pass both houses of Congress, and potentially secure the backing of President Donald Trump.
Three bipartisan bills came out of committee, the legislator said, that together would have helped to reduce the price of prescription drugs a little. Golden said they would not make a big difference, but they would help.
Instead of allowing a straightforward House vote on them, Golden said, the Rules Committee lumped them in with four ACA-related bills that GOP lawmakers would not support, effectively ending the chance of winning any Republican backing for the package of bills.
Golden said he supports all of the ACA provisions, but recognizes they are not going to become law with the Republicans in control of the Senate and White House.
He said he prefers to take “a better approach that would allow a bipartisan process” on proposals that can win backing from both sides of the political aisle.
“Our constituents sent us here to enact into law meaningful legislation to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, and we cannot do that without widespread bipartisan support in the House and Senate,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to the leadership.
They said they remain ready to work with the leaders “on behalf of American families who for too long have endured the growing costs of prescription drugs. Now is the time to act on bipartisan proposals that can gain traction in the Senate.”
The Republicans who signed on with Golden and Houlahan were Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, John Katko of New York and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin.
Golden said he did not know if there will be a political price for the protest.
“Ask me again in two months,” he said.
He said, though, that he is not going to back away from pushing to do what he thinks is best.
“I came down here to question the status quo,” Golden said, not to fall in line.
Golden said he intends to keep pushing.
“Sometimes there’s value in just shining a light on these processes,” he said.