House Democrats at Tuesday night's State of the Union address. Source: C-Span.

The Jolt: A campaign to lower drug costs targets David Perdue

If you watched Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, you could be forgiven if you didn’t spot any common ground that united congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump.

But there was one sliver of unacknowledged consensus. From the Washington Post:

When Trump urged lawmakers to send him a bill to lower prescription drug prices, promising he would “sign it into law without delay,” some Democrats leaped to their feet and, holding up three fingers, began chanting “H.R. 3! H.R. 3!” — a reference to a House-passed bill that would help do just that.

The bill, passed last year, calls for Medicare to negotiate drug prices for a minimum of 25 medicines and target drugs that cost the American health system the most. The drug industry is hotly opposed to it, as is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. From a September report by Politico:

“Socialist price controls will do a lot of left-wing damage to the healthcare system. And of course we’re not going to be calling up a bill like that,” McConnell said …

Trump, despite what he said on Tuesday night, agrees with McConnell. In his SOTU speech, the president endorsed a Senate version being put together by Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

The measure offers the possibility of a compromise, but it has not moved. Enter the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, a bipartisan organization that says it’s representing those further down the drug-chain, including hospitals, physicians and consumers.

On Tuesday, concurrent with Trump’s speech, the group targeted U.S. senators in nine states – David Perdue of Georgia among them – with a 30-second TV spot. You can watch it here.

“Congress and the administration promised to address the mounting crisis caused by out-of-control prescription drug prices,” said CSRxP executive director Lauren Aronson. “And while the House did its part, bipartisan legislation remains stuck in the Senate.”

The push appears to concentrate on states with close Senate contests – or that figure heavily into Republican strategies to keep the White House. In addition to Georgia, CSRxP is targeting senators in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

***

Posted earlier this morning:

-- Several top Georgia Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate said they would have voted to convict President Donald Trump on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress, opposing Republican incumbents who defeated an attempt Wednesday to oust him from office.

-- Georgia Democrats are seizing on Gov. Brian Kemp’s “extreme” proposed budget cuts to try to boost legislative candidates in competitive 2020 races.

***

The shadow of Mitt Romney will likely linger in Georgia throughout this year’s two races for U.S. Senate. 

After the Utah Republican voted to oust President Donald Trump, a certain Republican candidate was quick to point out that a certain Republican incumbent was once a major contributor to his presidential campaign. 

“Daily reminder that @kloeffler donated more than 750k to elect Mitt Romney in 2012 and zero dollars to elect @realDonaldTrump in 2016,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Sen. Kelly Loeffler. 

It was a reference to Loeffler’s prodigious support of Romney’s 2012 campaign, which involved roughly $760,000 in donations from her and another $850,000 check from her husband, Jeff Sprecher. 

Prior to his vote to convict Trump, Loeffler lashed out at Romney, whom she accused of seeking to “appease the left” with his support of a failed effort to allow witnesses to testify at the Senate trial that wrapped up on Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who also faces a re-election fight, is finding Romney to be a convenient target as well. He compared Romney to “Jeff Flake on steroids.” The latter, a former Arizona Republican, also was a frequent Trump critic. 

Meanwhile, another Georgian has put his differences with Romney in the rear view mirror via Twitter:

“I have made the decision to no longer haunt 47% of Mitt Romney's nightmares. We're good,” said James Carter, grandson of the former president.

In 2012, the younger Carter, a Democratic operative, unearthed video of Romney -- then a presidential candidate --  criticizing 47% of Americans as being dependent on the federal government for assistance.

The video was pivotal in Romney’s defeat.


***

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, had a busy Wednesday. In the morning, he was on Fox News to discuss the upcoming vote in the Senate trial.

But the Georgia congressman also had this strong reaction when asked whether his entrance into the race against U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., could give Democratic challengers an advangate. Said Collins:

“It’s a jungle primary. So, now, the governor could have solved that. We could do a primary. But, he chose to want to veto that because he would rather not have a primary. Well, that is on him.”

Late in the day, Collins was spotted at the Trump International Hotel in D.C., celebrating the president’s acquittal along with other members of Trump’s legal team, Politico Playbook reported.

Here is more from the New York Times about gathering of Trump advisors and GOP lawmakers:

One mile from the scene of President Trump’s acquittal in his impeachment trial, members of his defense team, family and administration gathered Wednesday evening at the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. They turned its marbled lobby into something of a hive bursting with “Keep America Great” hats, well-done steaks and bottles of red wine.

“I think it’s clearly a validation of the fact that the president never committed a crime,” Corey Lewandowski, the president’s former campaign manager, said as he flashed a blue piece of paper from his wallet. It was a Senate gallery ticket; he had watched the vote as it happened.

Although Collins was not one of the lawyers arguing on Trump’s behalf during the trial, he advised the White House on defense strategy and was a surrogate for the team on cable news.

***

Set your alarm: President Donald Trump is scheduled to talk about his acquittal in an address to the nation at noon.

***

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, whose ouster was at the center of President Trump’s impeachment trial, has an op-ed in the Washington Post that includes these lines:

We must not allow the United States to become a country where standing up to our government is a dangerous act. It has been shocking to experience the storm of criticism, lies and malicious conspiracies that have preceded and followed my public testimony, but I have no regrets.

***

Former congresswoman Karen Handel sent a fundraising email on the back of the Senate vote to acquit President Donald Trump.

The Republican is in a head-to-head match up against the woman who unseated her, Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath. McBath supported of bringing impeachment charges against Trump, and Handel has made the issue a focus of her bid to reclaim her seat.

“After months of political games and lies, Lucy McBath and the radical socialists’ plot to undo the 2016 Presidential Election has been completely foiled!” Handel’s Wednesday email said. “The Democrats have been obsessed with removing President Trump from office. After all this, one thing is clear — President Trump is completely innocent.”

***

Former state lawmaker Bill Hembree has joined the growing GOP field competing for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Tom Graves, R-Ranger.

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