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Executives from 7 drug companies appear before the Senate. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Drug companies have cheered the Trump administration's proposed crackdown on industry middlemen, but some hedged this morning when asked whether that plan would cause them to lower their prices.

The big picture: Pharmaceutical executives have stayed firmly on message even amid some tough questioning from the Senate Finance Committee.

What they're saying: Several lawmakers have taken a tough tone against the 7 executives testifying this morning about drug prices.

  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), for example, said AbbVie "protects the exclusivity of Humira like Gollum with his ring."
  • The pharmaceutical executives in attendance responded with many of the industry's standard arguments, including broadsides against pharmacy benefit managers and the drug rebate system PBMs rely on.

Between the lines: The Trump administration has proposed eliminating those PBM rebates in Medicare and Medicaid, saying that will also translate into lower sticker prices. Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the executives whether they would, in fact, lower prices as a result of the rebate proposal.

  • AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot and Merck CEO Ken Frazier both said their companies would lower drug prices if the rebate rule was applied to both the Medicare and commercial insurance markets. For now, it doesn't apply to commercial insurance.
  • Others said they similarly supported the rule, but hedged by saying costs would be lower for patients when they pick up the drug at the pharmacy — not necessarily that the health care system as a whole would be paying less.

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Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

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GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

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Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.