This week, while the House Judiciary Committee continued its work on impeachment, I voted on two major pieces of legislation on the House floor.
On Thursday, I voted in support of H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Prices Now Act. This landmark legislation will, for the first time, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with drug companies to bring down the cost of the most expensive medications in the country. I have been advocating for this change for decades, and I was proud to work with my colleagues to finally make that vision a reality.
The hundreds of billions of dollars in savings created by these negotiations will be reinvested back in Medicare; perhaps most significantly, under this bill Medicare will, at last cover vision, dental, and hearing care. The bill also invests over $10 billion in Community Health Centers, $10 billion in research at the National Institutes of Health, and $10 billion to tackle the opioids crisis. The new lower prices won’t only benefit seniors: the new lower prices will also be available to Americans who use private insurance.
In addition, this Wednesday, the House considered the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. As a lifelong advocate for paid parental leave, I was thrilled to see the bill included Paid Parental Leave for all federal employees – a critical first step in finally bringing our country in line with the rest of the world by providing 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents.
However, this legislation also would provide $735 billion in defense funding, increasing our defense spending by $131 billion since Donald Trump became President. That funding will be used to continue endless wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to perpetuate the war in Yemen, to develop and deploy new nuclear weapons, to ban transgender troops, to keep Guantanamo Bay open, and even to allow funding of a Border Wall. For all these reasons, I could not in good conscience support it. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that every working American has access to paid family leave and that we continue to pursue a defense policy that supports our military and our values.