Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Warren Blasts Drug Approval Legislation as 'Extortion'

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Warren Blasts Drug Approval Legislation as 'Extortion'

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a ferocious attack Monday on congressional Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over a medical research bill, and put fellow Democrats on the spot by pushing them to oppose a measure she said "is corrupt, and it is very, very dangerous." As Congress began the final stretch of its post-election session, Warren said the 996-page measure - a top priority for GOP leaders and backed by the biomedical industry - was riddled with provisions that she called "a bunch of special giveaways" to big pharmaceutical companies.

"They didn't send us here to whimper, whine or grovel," she said on the Senate floor about Democrats, using the populist rhetoric that has given her one of her party's highest profiles. "They sent us here to say no to efforts to sell Congress to the highest bidder."

Warren, D-Mass., said voters are "hoping we show some spine and start fighting back when Congress completely ignores the message of the American people."

She said the research bill would "legalize fraud by reducing the scientific evidence the government needs to approve existing drugs for new uses. She said it would "cover up bribery by exempting medical companies from publicly reporting some payments they make to doctors.

Those provisions, she said, outweighed the "tiny fig leaf of additional money the bill provides for biomedical research and combating abuse of addictive opioid drugs.

"I cannot vote for this bill. I will fight it because I know the difference between compromise and extortion, said Warren, who some mention as a potential 2020 presidential contender.

Warren's comments came with Democrats in the early stages of decoding their lesson from this month's elections. Hillary Clinton shockingly lost her White House bid to Republican Donald Trump and Democrats remained in the House and Senate minority, making only small gains in each chamber.

Warren is expected to try tugging her party toward more progressive policies, while some more moderate Democrats are emphasizing the need to appeal to the type of working-class white voters who helped Trump win Midwestern states carried in recent elections by Democrats. …

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