Health Care

Senator John Cornyn Accuses Chuck Schumer of ‘Playing Partisan Games’ by Blocking Bipartisan Drug Prices Bill

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to the media on Capitol Hill, June 18, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) criticized Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on Wednesday for “playing partisan games” by “blocking” a bipartisan bill to lower drug prices, which unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The “Affordable Prescriptions for Patients” Act, which was originally cosponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), aims to even the patent playing field between drug companies and competitors that produce cheaper, generic drugs.

“Senator Blumenthal and I introduced a noncontroversial, bipartisan bill that passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously. This bill is meant to lower drug prices, but Senator Schumer keeps playing partisan games and is blocking it. This needs to stop,” Cornyn tweeted.

Schumer objected, saying Cornyn is playing a “little game” to advance his bill without larger action to lower drug prices, which Schumer argued Republicans are blocking.

“We have a whole lot of legislative ideas, not just his,” Schumer said on the floor, pointing to a different bipartisan measure from Senators Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D., Ore.).

Last week, Cornyn also sparred with Schumer over the bill. “He plans to renew the request next week,” a Cornyn spokesman said on November 7. “Schumer will have to decide if he stands with the American people or the special interests fighting this bill.”

Since its introduction, the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 22-0 vote, and has added nine other cosponsors, including Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) and Democratic Senators Patty Murray, Gary Peters, and Tina Smith.

“We are very hopeful that our bill will pass with unanimous consent next week, and we’ll be joining Sen. Cornyn in seeking its swift approval,” said a Blumenthal spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

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