House Republicans are directly intervening in the House Oversight Committee’s efforts to investigate prescription drug prices, sending letters to “a dozen CEOs of major drug companies” telling them to refuse to comply. BuzzFeed News reports that ranking members on Oversight, the Freedom Caucus ringleaders Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, are telling the CEOs that Chairman Elijah Cummings could leak the information requested in “an effort to tank their stock prices.”
BuzzFeed obtained letters in which the Republicans tell the CEOs that Cummings is seeking information “that would likely harm the competitiveness of your company if disclosed publicly” and imply that this is the chairman’s intent, accusing him of “releasing cherry-picked excerpts from a highly sensitive closed-door interview” in the investigation of White House security clearances. They say that this is a pattern for Cummings, and “not the first time he has released sensitive information unilaterally.” They say they “felt is was prudent to raise these issues” with the drug companies.
When it comes to “cherry-picking,” these two are masters. They have twisted a statement Cummings made to the Committee on House Administration in requesting a funding increase for the Oversight Committee. Cummings was discussing what he calls his “drug team,” the committee staff focusing on prescription drug pricing. The Republicans say Cummings was bragging about tanking the companies’ stock prices when he said “If you follow the headlines, we have already seen the impact [the drug team has] had […] on stock prices with regard to drugs. I mean, it has been astronomical.” That “astronomical” in the context of his actual statement referred to “taxpayer savings,” from his committee’s work. “Whatever you all give us,” Cummings told the committee, “we will give it back in savings by rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse.”
The Republicans’ interference here is not normal, probably even unprecedented. It’s also revealing about where their loyalties lie, and it’s not with American consumers. “Rep. Jordan is on the absolute wrong side here,” Cummings told BuzzFeed News. “He would rather protect drug company ‘stock prices’ than the interests of the American people.”