Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Tuesday that his meeting with President Donald Trump is on for next week — and it will focus on, but not be limited to, the issue of prescription drug pricing.
Cummings, the House oversight panel’s top Democrat, said in a brief interview that he would “raise whatever (issues) I can” with Trump, “but the main thing will be prescription drugs. That’s what we agreed to talk about.”
A meeting originally planned for earlier this month never took place. Trump suggested that Cummings was facing political pressure to back out of the meeting, which had not been officially scheduled — something the Marylander denied. Cummings said that he expects the White House sitdown to take place later next week.
Cummings said his top two priorities for the meeting would be allowing the negotiation of drug prices under Medicare and giving U.S. consumers access to Canadian prescription drug imports, two campaign-trail promises of Trump’s that align with Democrats and against GOP orthodoxy. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a leading congressional advocate for Medicare drug negotiation, is also expected to attend the White House meeting, according to spokeswoman Kirsten Hartman.
Cummings on Tuesday joined a group of Democrats who offered new legislation on drug imports, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and four Senate Democrats who took heat from the left for voting against an amendment on drug imports from the Vermont Independent.
Making good on his campaign pledges to lower prescription drug costs “should be a no-brainer” for Trump, Cummings said, and “we hope to get his sign-off” for both the new drug-imports bill and Medicare prescription drug negotiation.
“I was very pleased to see that” Trump has indicated a continued disinterest in changing Social Security or Medicare in his early budget numbers, indicating an awareness of his campaign-trail commitments on that front, Cummings said.
The new prescription-drugs bill is a product of weeks-long negotiations between Sanders and some of the 13 fellow Democrats who voted against a symbolic amendment he offered during last month’s budget debate that called for permitting imports of cheaper Canadian medicine. That amendment fell short, despite winning 12 Republican votes, prompting Sanders to criticize his colleagues.
Four of the Democrats who went against Sanders last month signed onto Tuesday’s legislation: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, and Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell. Booker told reporters that “we worked long and hard on” crafting safety provisions to include in the legislation.