Democrats feud over drug pricing policy, as progressives push pragmatists to be bolder
In recent weeks, tensions between the two camps have escalated, and some fights have even spilled into public view. In a high-profile tug of war, lawmakers hoping to strike an accord with the Trump administration have been forced to confront a faction pressing Democrats to instead pursue a bolder progressive agenda — albeit one that the GOP-controlled Senate would surely ignore. At a recent meeting of the Democrats’ most liberal members, several lawmakers scolded Wendell Primus, a veteran aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for aggressively pitching pharmaceutical policy they said fell short of the speaker’s campaign promises. Much of the controversy has been driven by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who last week publicly dressed down a veteran committee aide, accusing her of misleading him and shaping legislation to favor drug companies. And it’s not just the lawmakers — outside progressive advocacy groups aligned with Doggett are also fighting with more centrist organizations over the best path forward. The skirmishes have highlighted the tension between Democrats’ ambitious left flank and what that group views as the party’s unjustifiably pragmatist leadership, and have kept Democrats from forming a cohesive strategy to lower drug prices 100 days into the new Congress. They have also raised questions about whether the new House majority can reach consensus on what has become a top-tier policy issue.