Democrats are committed to passing legislation this year to curb prescription drug prices. But they disagree on how to cut costs for patients and taxpayers while preserving profits that entice investors to back promising treatments. It boils down to how big a stick Medicare should have to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing legislation that imposes a steep tax on drugmakers refusing to deal with Medicare. In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden is starting from a less ambitious bipartisan bill that would limit price increases but not initial prices. Yet he, too, says it's “past time” for Medicare to negotiate prices.
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The Justice Department’s internal watchdog has launched an investigation after revelations that former President Donald Trump’s administration secretly seized phone data from at least two House Democrats. Democrats called the seizures a “harrowing” abuse of power. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and California Rep. Eric Swalwell said Apple notified them last month that their metadata had been subpoenaed and turned over to the Justice Department in 2018. That was as their committee was investigating Trump's ties to Russia. Senate Democratic leaders on Friday also demanded that former Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions testify about the secret subpoenas.
Nevada’s governor has signed a law making the Western state the first to vote on the 2024 presidential primary contests, bumping Iowa and New Hampshire from their leadoff spots. The new law is a gamble. It’s likely to set off maneuvering from other states, especially Iowa and New Hampshire, to move up their contests. The national political parties would need to agree to changes in the calendar, or state parties could risk losing their delegates at presidential nominating conventions. The Democratic National Committee has not yet signaled whether it would support the shakeup. Republicans say they are opposed.
North Carolina's Senate has approved a measure to prohibit doctors from performing abortions if a woman is seeking it because of race, sex or a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is not expected to approve the bill. Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion advocates say the proposal approved Thursday ensures equality by protecting fetuses that could have disabilities when they are born. Abortion rights groups say it would interfere with a woman's privacy, preventing them from having open conversations with their doctors and violating their constitutional rights.
Thailand’s House of Representatives has approved a bill allowing the government to borrow up to $16 billion to deal with the economic fallout and medical costs of the coronavirus. Nearly $10 billion would be for direct assistance to individuals and businesses, about $5.5 billion to create jobs and stimulate the economy, and nearly $1 billion for medical equipment, research and medicine. Thailand's finance minister says the country's tourism-dependent economy is the weakest since the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the government needs the money urgently. The bill goes to the Senate on Monday, where it is expected to pass easily. Thailand has been battling a sharp surge in the coronavirus since April.
The White House has dropped Trump-era executive orders that attempted to ban the popular apps TikTok and WeChat and will conduct its own review aimed at identifying national security risks with software applications tied to China. A new executive order directs the Commerce Department to undertake what officials describe as an “evidence-based” analysis of transactions involving apps that are manufactured or supplied or controlled by China. Officials are particularly concerned about apps that collect users’ personal data or have connections to Chinese military or intelligence activities.
President Joe Biden is pursuing “multiple paths forward” as he looks to muscle his big infrastructure package through Congress. Biden cut off talks with a core group of Republicans when it became clear they were too far apart on a deal. He then started new talks with a bipartisan group of 10 senators and instructed Democratic leaders to prepare to act on their own, if needed. It’s an approach that shows the perils ahead but also the various paths for a deal. It may take all of them to put Biden's ideas for a multitrillion-dollar investment into law.
Two key U.S. senators introduced legislation Wednesday designed to spur faster payouts from donor-advised funds and foundations, giving new momentum to an effort that has deeply divided philanthropy. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, a former chairman of the Finance Committee who still sits on that panel, and Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, have teamed up on legislation that closely tracks a plan put forward by the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving, a group of prominent wealthy donors, foundations, and scholars of charitable giving.
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 8, 2021 file photo, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, listens during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the IRS budget request on Capitol Hill in Washington. Grassley and Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, introduced legislation Wednesday, June 9 designed to spur faster payouts from donor-advised funds and foundations, giving new momentum to an effort that has deeply divided philanthropy. (Tom Williams/Pool via AP, File)
Beijing has denounced a U.S. bill aimed at boosting U.S. technology to improve American competitiveness, calling it a thinly veiled attack on China's political system and an attempt to hinder its development. The Foreign Affairs Committee of China's ceremonial legislature issued a scathing statement expressing its “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate on Tuesday. The Chinese statement attacked parts of the bill expressing support for Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy China claims as its own territory. The 68-32 Senate vote on the bill demonstrated how confronting China is a rate issue that unites both parties in Congress despite intense partisan divisions.