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Where the E&C chair candidates stand on health care

Feb 12, 2024
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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Whoever succeeds Cathy McMorris Rodgers as top House Energy and Commerce Republican will have a major role shaping post-election legislation — and triaging all the health policy that doesn't get finished this year.

  • All three have experience moving health care legislation, though it's hard to know what a GOP health agenda will look like, or whether Republicans will be in the majority.

Here's our breakdown on each:

Rep. Brett Guthrie

Of note: Guthrie has spoken about his relationship with Senate HELP Ranking Member Sen. Bill Cassidy, who came to Congress in the same class.

  • That could be useful in the event that Cassidy becomes HELP chair if Republicans take the Senate majority.

Rep. Bob Latta

  • Latta is the most senior Republican member of the E&C committee and the current chair of the communications and technology subcommittee. He's done quite a bit of work on technology and energy policy.
  • He worked with Rep. Morgan Griffith on the HALT Fentanyl Act which would permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances into schedule I, under the Controlled Substances Act, the highest classification of illegal drugs under the Act.
  • The bill passed the House in a bipartisan vote last May and President Biden supports it.
  • Two other health bills he's sponsored this Congress are the TREAT Act, which would allow for providers to conduct telehealth mental health services across state lines in a national emergency, and a measure that would prohibit the FDA from approving any new abortion pills and impose additional restrictions on FDA-approved pills.

Rep. Richard Hudson

  • Hudson took an outsize health care role this year on the committee despite not being a subcommittee chair, since he served as the lead on PAHPA reauthorization negotiations. He is a health subcommittee member.
  • PAHPA negotiations remain at a standstill amid a partisan dispute over addressing drug shortages, as well as opposition from House Freedom Caucus members on COVID policies.
  • Besides PAHPA, Hudson, who is chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also recently made headlines by telling Punchbowl News that he thought the GOP needed to stop running away from abortion as an issue, and instead take a specific stance and fight back against Democrats on it.
  • Outside of those issues, Hudson has also sponsored bills this Congress that would increase access to biosimilars and Medicare payment rates for clinical laboratory tests.
  • He also co-sponsored a messaging bill with Guthrie that would ban immigrants lacking permanent legal status from accessing Medicaid.

Flashback: If Hudson were to get the chairmanship he would be following in the same path as Greg Walden, who was elected E&C chair after serving as chair of the NRCC and helping keep the House's GOP majority in 2016.

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