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

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Brazil on Monday recorded for the first time more deaths from the novel coronavirus in a single day than the United States, Reuters notes. Brazil reported 807 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, compared to 620 in the U.S. for the same period.

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.6 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,900 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,490,954 — Total deaths: 345,962 — Total recoveries — 2,228,915Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,662,250 — Total deaths: 98,218 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Authorities issue warning as Americans venture out for Memorial Day weekend

Ocean City in New Jersey on May 25. Photo: Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Authorities urged Americans to maintain social distancing and wear masks to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus amid reports of packed beaches and bars during the Memorial Day weekend.

Details: Law enforcement stepped up beach patrols, and there were crowded scenes in several places, notably at Lake of the Ozarks bars in Missouri and at Daytona Beach and on the Gulf Coast in Florida, per AP. Police dispersed crowds in some places, ABC notes. But many Americans did take precautions against COVID-19 as they ventured outside for the long weekend, some three months after the pandemic began in the U.S.