Sep 27, 2019

What impeachment means for a deal on drug prices

Illustration:Aïda Amer/Axios

Washington hasn't yet given up on the prospect of passing a drug pricing bill into law, even as House Democrats move ahead with impeaching President Trump.

Between the lines: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump already have plenty of bad blood, and the impeachment process is another layer of chaos. But people following the debate say both parties have plenty to gain politically from acting on an issue so important to voters.

Where it stands: It was already unclear whether Pelosi, Trump and Senate Republicans would be able to strike a grand bargain in an election year — especially if that bargain would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

  • "Democrats threw guns, drugs and everything else on their legislative agenda under the impeachment bus. Hard to see how Congress passes anything other than a government funding resolution," one Senate Republican strategist said.

Yes, but: Aides, lobbyists and policy experts on both sides of the aisle said Congress and Trump could now feel pressure to show that they're still working on policy.

  • "Obviously there’s the question of [Trump's] willingness to work with [House Democrats] but I’m not so sure he won’t still be open to policy wins," said Brendan Buck, who was an advisor to former House Speaker Paul Ryan.
  • "If it seems to the public they are ignoring this and other issues because of some political distraction or calculation, it will redound to their detriment," said Democratic consultant Chris Jennings.

What they're saying:

  • "We will still be working energetically to move ahead. Up to the Hill as to whether it can progress, or gridlocks on impeachment," a senior administration official said.
  • “It certainly doesn’t diminish our enthusiasm to do something on prescription drug prices, and there’s no reason it should diminish theirs," a senior Democratic aide said.
  • "When Clinton was being impeached the Republican Congress separately passed legislation that he wanted passed," a senior Senate GOP aide told me. "It was called 'compartmentalization': impeachment over here, doing your job over there."

Go deeper

Impeached and re-elected

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It’s looking more likely by the day that President Trump will be impeached by the House for his dealings with Ukraine. But if he is acquitted by the Senate — and then goes on to win a second term — Democrats will face a predicament neither party has confronted in U.S. history.

Why it matters: If Trump survives politically and is re-elected to serve another four years, Congress likely would have nowhere left to go in the event of another scandal, legal and political experts say — not because the House couldn’t impeach him again, but because it might be politically impossible to do so.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

Pete Buttigieg joins 2020 Democrats' leftward march on drug prices

Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg released Tuesday his plan to reduce prescription drug prices, which includes many of the liberal proposals that have become the new Democratic normal.

Between the lines: This plan puts Buttigieg somewhere in the leftward middle of the top-tier candidates on drug prices. The field — and the party as a whole — is much more aggressive on the subject than Democrats have been in the past.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019

Scoop: Trump's private concerns of an impeachment legacy

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump has told friends and allies he worries about the stain impeachment will leave on his legacy.

Driving the news: In a phone call with House Republicans on Friday, Trump articulated why he really doesn't want this. Impeachment, Trump said, is a "bad thing to have on your resume," according to a source on the call. Two other sources on the call confirmed the substance of the comment, but one said they recalled Trump phrasing it as "you don't want it [impeachment] on your resume."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 7, 2019