‘We are not going to give up’: GOP lawmakers fight for new drug law
Republicans are struggling to find a way to pass a new version of their sweeping opioid legislation after a series of setbacks in the House and Senate.
While lawmakers have been working on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to buy health insurance, the House is moving to eliminate the tax penalty on high-cost plans, which are a key component of the law.
The Senate is also set to consider a measure to overhaul the tax code, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is working on legislation to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for families who earn less than $75,000 a year.
But despite the efforts to find common ground, GOP lawmakers have yet to come up with a plan to replace the tax on high costs that the law mandates for many Americans.
While the Senate bill would reduce taxes for some high-income earners, it would only apply to those making more than $1 million a year, and the House bill would include an exemption for those making less than that amount.
The House has also rejected a bipartisan effort to fund the Department of Health and Human Services to prevent states from implementing their own version of the health care law.
The Senate is now considering a bill that would fund the agency through Sept. 30, 2018.
The White House has urged Congress to address the opioid crisis, saying President Donald Trump “is focused on bringing this issue to the forefront” and is seeking a bipartisan agreement to “build on this progress.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) said Friday he has met with members of the administration and is “working to find ways to help” the opioid epidemic.
He said the president has made it clear to them that he is committed to the opioid issue.
Ryan also said Trump has spoken to him multiple times about the issue.
Ryan added he is “not going to stand idly by” if the president does not take steps to end the epidemic.
Ryan said Trump is also committed to his campaign promise to end prescription opioid abuse and called for Congress to act quickly to address it.
The Trump administration has already proposed cutting the budget of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration by $1.3 billion, or nearly 5 percent of the agency’s budget, which would reduce its staff of 1,500 to about 1,200.
The president has also proposed a $50 billion package of $1 trillion in spending cuts that includes the repeal of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and cuts to domestic programs like food stamps.
Ryan did not mention the president’s proposed cuts to his remarks, which were made during a meeting with the CEOs of a range of drug companies on Friday.