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President Donald J. Trump. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional Republicans don't seem to have the pharmaceutical industry's back the way they used to — and the way the industry might expect them to, after donating millions of dollars to GOP campaigns, cycle after cycle.

The big picture: The Trump administration rolled out a drug-pricing proposal last week that pharma hates — and that, on paper, congressional Republicans should hate, too.

  • It would take a bite out of drug companies' bottom lines, and it would do so by piggybacking off of European countries’ price controls.
  • But there was barely a peep from Capitol Hill as Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the proposal.

"People are definitely kind of blindsided by it. They think, 'Oh my gosh, this is so much worse than we were expecting'," a pharmaceutical lobbyist told Axios.

Between the lines: Pharma industry PACs have given almost $9 million to Republican candidates this cycle, according to Center for Responsive Politics, on top of $11 million in 2016, and $9 million in 2014.

  • "To some extent, the lobbying effort has looked like how you would treat a traditional Republican administration and a Republican-controlled Congress. And that's not at all what we have. We have something that looks wildly different than that," the lobbyist said.

Yes, but: For pharma companies, betting on Republicans is still safer than helping out Democratic campaigns.

  • And the proposal Trump rolled out last week is simply a plan to come up with a plan. There will still be plenty of opportunities for industry to try to kill it, as they did with a similar initiative under the Obama administration.
  • Republicans' silence now doesn’t necessarily mean they won't return to industry’s side if and when Democrats gain power.
  • "The real test will be, do Republicans vote ‘no’ on this shit when it’s on the floor?" the lobbyist said.

The bottom line: "This is what is so surprising, is it's a midterm play for Republicans. Because they are so desperate to get well on health care that they actually want to be talking about major drug pricing initiatives," the industry lobbyist said.

Go deeper

House Judiciary Committee advances reparations bill in historic vote

Sheila Jackson Lee. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee voted 25 to 17 Wednesday to advance a bill that would create a commission to study reparations for Black Americans who are the descendants of slaves.

Why it matters: "No such bill has ever come this far during Congressional history of the United States," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who sponsored the bill, per the Washington Post.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Officer Kim Potter arrested, charged with manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

Kim Potter's booking photos. Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Kim Potter, the former police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, was released on a $100,000 bond on Wednesday, Hennepin County jail records show.

Why it matters: Sunday's shooting of the 20-year-old Black man in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last year, has reinvigorated Black Lives Matter protests and led to three consecutive nights of unrest.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden names Erika Moritsugu as senior AAPI liaison

Erika Moritsugu. Photo courtesy: National Partnership for Women & Families

President Biden has named Erika Moritsugu as deputy assistant to the president and Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison, the White House announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: The decision follows weeks of pressure from AAPI leaders to include more Asian American representation at the Cabinet level and in senior administration roles.

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