House Democrats elevate prescription drug bill to combat GOP-backed anti-impeachment attacks


iStock(WASHiNGTON) — The House’s moderate freshman Democrats, seen as some of the party’s most politically vulnerable members, scored a legislative victory on health care Thursday, solidifying their argument that they can execute legislative priorities while also undercutting Republican claims that impeaching President Donald Trump thwarts progress for the country.In between the hours of debate inside the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the impeachment articles, House Democrats passed a big-ticket piece of legislation, H.R. 3, aimed at reducing the price of prescription drugs. The vote, which was the culmination of a months-long effort to rally the caucus behind a single approach to lower drug prices, will do so by negotiating costs through Medicare and its vast bargaining power.With centrist-minded Democrats wary of the political backlash of impeachment, the move bolsters their argument that they can still focus on and advance a comprehensive legislative agenda while simultaneously holding the president accountable for what they argue is an abuse of power. But the bill, not supported by Trump, is likely dead on arrival in the Senate.The latest legislative accomplishment comes after a bruising few weeks for vulnerable Democrats, who have found themselves at the center of anti-impeachment attacks, including a $2.2 million anti-impeachment ad buy from the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action targeting 27 Democrats in districts Trump won in 2016.Republicans are pouring millions into television and digital ads to capitalize on the Democrats’ impeachment push. As ABC News has previously reported, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee launched a $10 million anti-impeachment ad blitz in September, with $2 million from the RNC targeting more than 60 vulnerable House Democrats in Trump-won or key congressional districts. Last month, conservative nonprofit American Action Network also launched a $7 million TV and digital ad campaign opposing the impeachment, including $5 million in TV ads across 20 congressional districts.The National Republican Campaign Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm, has also spent $90,000 so far on digital ads targeting Democrats for not “getting anything accomplished.””Socialist Democrats’ obsession with unilaterally removing Trump from office comes at the expense of getting anything accomplished for the American people and it will cost them their majority next November,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Chris Pack said in a statement to ABC News.But now national Democrats are closing ranks around their vulnerable members by highlighting their policy bonafides to run counter to Republicans’ massive impeachment offensive.The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a new digital ad campaign, their opening salvo for 2020 backed by a mid-five figure buy, across the House battleground’s swing districts.”This targeted ad buy is a reminder that while House Democrats continue to put the priorities of the American people first, Washington Republicans once again showed they will always prioritize padding the pockets of their special interest backers over the people they were elected to represent,” said DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos.The digital ads on Facebook will target voters across the congressional battlefield, which includes the DCCC’s front-line members, the party’s most vulnerable candidates up for reelection, and their top GOP targets. The ads, which underscore the efforts by House Democrats to continue to make health care a top election issue, will run in multiple languages, according to the committee.The ad buy follows presidential contender and billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg lending a sliver of his personal fortune to the arms race on the current congressional battlefield.On Wednesday, a senior aide to Bloomberg confirmed he will donate $10 million to the House Majority PAC to help defend vulnerable House Democrats, as they face a slew of well-financed Republican attacks on their support of impeachment against Trump. The latest move continues his long history of deep-pocketed donations to buttress candidates. In the 2018 midterm elections, he spent upwards of $100 million on House Democrats, supporting their efforts to flip the chamber.The legislation passed Thursday, named the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act in memory of the congressman who died earlier this year, is a key plank of Democrats’ 2018 winning campaign platform, which helped them overtake the House majority.Trump, who campaigned on making lowering drug costs a top priority, opposes the measure, which passed 230-192 in the House with unanimous support from Democrats. The bill is not expected to make it through the Senate. The White House Office of Management and Budget released a statement Tuesday night, saying, “If H.R. 3 were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto the bill.”Regardless of the GOP’s lack of support for H.R. 3, Democrats are training their focus on the issues.”Democrats are keeping our promises on health care,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez in a statement on the passage of H.R. 3. “We’re working to lower drug prices for middle-class families and passing historic investments in Medicare, while Trump’s agenda spikes costs, jeopardizes protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and slashes billions from Medicare and Medicaid. As Trump and Republicans break their promises at every turn, Democrats will keep working to improve the lives of everyday Americans.” Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.