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“GPO innovations are helpingto reduce provider costs, streamline drug delivery, and strengthen the health care supply chain,” – Hon. Phil English, HGPII National Co-Coordinator
Happy Wednesday morning. There are 20 days until Election Day.
We have two interviews for you this morning, one with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the other with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
We talked to Pelosi one-on-one about a host of political dynamics her party is confronting. And we spoke with McCarthy about his plans for investigations into the Biden administration if Republicans win the majority on Election Day.
Let’s start with Pelosi:
What Pelosi is seeing on the road: Pelosi told us she’s averaged five states each week for the last several weeks as she circles the country on behalf of House Democratic incumbents and candidates. While they couldn’t be more different in personal style, Pelosi and McCarthy are really grinding at this point in the cycle.
The speaker sees the political climate far different than many in the Capitol. She feels good about keeping the majority and is unflinching in her assessment that Democrats are well positioned.
Pelosi told us that she’s been heartened by Democratic activists’ willingness to “get up on a Saturday morning” to get the vote out.
Here’s Pelosi on the midterm elections: “This is about turnout. We know that the public is with us. But it’s about turnout. So I’m excited. We’ve outraised them, except for their big, dark money, which is endless.”
This is a serious concern inside Democratic leadership ranks. While the DCCC and NRCC are essentially a push on fundraising, and Democratic incumbents are well funded, the Congressional Leadership Fund – the House GOP-aligned super PAC – has been raking in enormous sums of money. Much more on that below.
Pelosi says Democrats need a better message on inflation: Pelosi argued that the 2022 midterms will focus on Republicans’ willingness to strip away abortion rights, cut popular social safety net programs and their lack of a cohesive message on climate change. Polls indicate that these aren’t Americans’ top priorities right now, but Pelosi is confident that she understands voters better than the pollsters.
When we asked Pelosi about inflation – which consistently polls as the top priority of voters this cycle – she said this:
“Inflation’s an issue, but it’s global. It’s global. … What’s [the Republicans’] plan? They ain’t got nothing. When you bring down unemployment, inflation goes up. … So in any case, [President Joe Biden] brought unemployment [down], cut it in half. Inflation is there but it’s global and not as bad as it is in some countries. We’ll have to message it better in the next three weeks ahead. I think we’re in great shape. Other people don’t want to believe that.”
Pelosi is correct in that Republicans are mostly running against Biden on inflation rather than offering their own plan. But her candid admission that Democrats need a better message was interesting to us.
The speaker on House Republicans’ success with “dark money”: As we said, one of the biggest storylines this cycle is the Congressional Leadership Fund’s success in raising massive piles of money to support House Republicans. CLF has drastically outraised House Majority PAC, the pro-Democrat super PAC. We asked Pelosi if this yawning money gap is a long-term problem for Democrats. Pelosi said she didn’t believe it was because Democratic candidates are still outraising their GOP opponents. But she said if Democrats retain their majority, they’ll pass a bill to change the way super PACs raise and spend money.
“We’ll have enough [money]. But our members have much more and [they can buy TV time at a cheaper rate]. I do think that when we win, we have to pass the bill that reduces the impact of that big, dark money because it just chokes and suffocates the airwaves. And that’s what they’re doing with their lies.”
On Sean Patrick Maloney’s race: As we scooped Tuesday, CLF is putting $4 million on television against Maloney in New York, part of a $6 million effort to take him out. Pelosi indicated that she thinks this is a vanity project for the GOP. She added that some Democratic donors who weren’t going to donate to Maloney would now pony up to help keep him in Congress.
“They want to fell a mighty oak. That’s what they do. They went after [former DCCC Chair] Cheri Bustos. And so you have to win. … But it’s no surprise. That’s how they are. That’s how they are. But you have endless money, you don’t have to say ‘Well, if I do this, I can’t do that.’”
Of course, CLF doesn’t see this as a vanity project. They have polling that shows the race within the margin of error and they seem to truly believe that SPM’s district is a winnable seat that can put them close to the majority.
Three more quick items:
We asked Pelosi whether she’s worried about McCarthy becoming speaker. Her response: “We’re going to win this election so I don’t even entertain that notion. But it should be of concern to the Republicans.”
Pelosi said this of Republicans’ doubt about climate change: “How stupid could they be? Or how in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry are they?”
Pelosi doesn’t think much of “pundits” in D.C. Check out this quote:
“[The battle for control of the House] is one race at a time. People talk … We’re not running for president. We’re running one race at a time. All these pundits in Washington – a year and a half of you guys were saying ‘You can’t win.’ … ‘History says.’ – And we’re like ‘What do you mean about history says?’ We’re talking about the future.”
– Jake Sherman
Today: Don’t miss out on our conversation this morning with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) about mobile technology security and app store legislation. RSVP here to join us on the livestream (in-person RSVPs are full) at 9 a.m. ET.
PRESENTED BY PHRMA
The 340B program may be driving up costs for some patients. A new analysis finds average costs per prescription for a patient is more than 150% greater at 340B hospitals than at non-340B hospitals. It’s time to fix the 340B program. Learn more.
McCarthy dishes on GOP’s investigation plans for next Congress
One of the biggest challenges House Republican leadership will face if they take the majority is the rush to impeach a member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet — or Biden himself.
We were surprised by McCarthy’s thoughts on impeachment. He’s opposed to impeachment as of now and thinks no one in the Biden administration has done anything so bad that deserves being subject to proceedings.
“I think the country doesn’t like impeachment used for political purposes at all. If anyone ever rises to that occasion, you have to, but I think the country wants to heal and … start to see the system that actually works. What we’ve done in the Commitment to America, but we’re really focused on the economy, on crime and the border. [Voters] don’t want you to focus on it. We focus on accountability.”
This is as firm a political argument we’ve heard against impeachment from a House Republican leader in some time. Then again, it’s only October, so this can change. And note: McCarthy is saying he’s against “impeachment for political purposes.” This leaves him some room.
We then asked McCarthy if anyone in the administration has risen to the level that he would consider impeachment proceedings:
“I don’t see it before me right now. You watch what the Democrats did. They all came out and said they would impeach before [Donald] Trump was ever sworn in. There wasn’t a purpose for it. If you spent all that time arguing against using impeachment for political purposes, you gotta be able to sustain exactly what you said.”
McCarthy is right in saying that there were some Democrats who called for Trump’s impeachment soon after his election, but it was not “all” Democrats. And especially not Speaker Nancy Pelosi or their leadership.
Meanwhile, we’ve heard widespread calls from the right to impeach Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
There were a few other McCarthy comments on the topic of congressional oversight that grabbed our attention as well.
The Biden family: During an event last week in Edina, Minn., for Tyler Kistner, who is running against Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), McCarthy said: “When was the last time we had a president who had an ethically challenged family member” like Hunter Biden?
We followed up with McCarthy on this issue, which can be fairly described as an obsession for conservative media:
“There’s a real concern out there of what is out in the public domain. Did the FBI not look into these actions? Did they hold back information? We have a whole concern there. And we have a responsibility.”
To be sure, Hunter Biden is under federal investigation, and FBI agents reportedly believe they have enough evidence to indict him. House Republicans are going to zero in on some of Biden’s business dealings when the now president served as vice president, as well as after Biden left the White House in 2017.
Afghanistan: Surprisingly, McCarthy doesn’t like the idea of select committees – special panels created to delve into discrete topics. But he does seem to be considering a select committee to investigate the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.
On the campaign trail, McCarthy frequently invokes the chaos of that period, and he blames Biden for creating “13 more Gold Star families.”
You should expect that House Republicans will use the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs panels to probe the withdrawal. Republicans will call in the Pentagon brass and diplomats to extract details about the botched withdrawal.
China: One area in which McCarthy will create a select committee is to investigate China, an issue he’s been hawkish on. McCarthy said he’ll invite Democrats to participate on the committee – as is standard. Here’s how McCarthy thinks of the select committee’s focus:
“We don’t do anything where we oversee how China’s going to capture market [share] from every different industry in America. Is there one place to tell you all that happened with their emerging markets so then you can utilize that?”
Other probes: McCarthy is eyeing investigations into the origins of Covid, as well as his claim that the Justice Department was tagging parents who spoke up at school board meetings as “terrorists.” The Washington Post fact checker dug into this one, so we’ll let them speak on that.
McCarthy said he’s interested in having House committees probe where some of the stimulus money ended up.
“Think of all the billions of dollars that have been misspent, that are continuing to be misspent … that went into these states. Did these states uphold the criteria they were meant to? And sometimes when you have a state like California that has no oversight, one of the roles of members of Congress is to make sure that money is spent correctly.”
Kicking Democrats off committees: House Republicans have been eager to kick a few Democrats off of committees after GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) were booted off their panels this Congress. The MTG incident particularly irks Republicans as it focused on comments made before she was elected.
McCarthy told us he won’t allow Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) to serve on the Intelligence Committee, or Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee. McCarthy said the trio are free to serve on other panels.
One more thing: McCarthy told us he’s interested in creating a national standard by which to judge local prosecutors. He spoke vaguely about a program by which Congress would set a standard as to whether local DAs are prosecuting crimes or letting alleged criminals off the hook. McCarthy suggested the House might try to tie federal grants to this standard.
– Jake Sherman
The American Beverage Association has signed up Avenue Solutions to lobby on “[i]ssues related to Aspartame.”
— Jake Sherman
THE MONEY GAME
Pelosi will match lawmakers’ dues through Oct. 25
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats Tuesday that she would match whatever dues House Democrats pay to the DCCC through Oct. 25.
Victor Garcia-Estrada, who works on dues for the DCCC, sent an email to Democratic offices saying this:
[Pelosi] will [once] again be matching, dollar-for-dollar, dues given between now until next Tuesday, October 25th. Note, it has to be a new or additional contribution and not an outstanding October pledge.
Hope your boss will consider the Speaker’s generous offer and take her up on it — even if they’ve already contributed/pledged this month or are paid in-full and over their goals. Republicans have poured millions of dark special interest money into their campaigns. As the Speaker mentioned, we must have no wasted time, no underutilized resources, and no regrets the day after the election.
To give dues or if you have any questions regarding the Speaker’s matching let me know. Thank you!
The DCCC has struggled mightily to get House Democrats to pay dues this cycle. With less than three weeks to go, and GOP super PACs still dumping millions of dollars into races, this may be a big reach for members.
– Jake Sherman and Heather Caygle
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) is touting the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act in a new ad focused on the reconciliation package’s health care reforms.
“We’ve made progress, passing the new law that lets Medicare negotiate for lower medicine prices and caps out of pocket costs for New Hampshire seniors,” Hassan says in the ad. “This will save taxpayers billions of dollars and will start loosening Big Pharma’s grip on drug prices.”
Messaging like this is why many Democrats were delighted at the IRA’s passage ahead of the midterms.
Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) says his opponent Colin Schmitt poses a threat to New Yorker’s health, safety and freedom in a new ad. Ryan, who notched an upset special election victory in August, criticizes the Republican’s stances on abortion rights and gun policy in the spot.
“I protected our country from extremist threats abroad,” Ryan says to close the ad. “I approve this message to protect us at home too.”
— Max Cohen
10:45 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
12:15 p.m.: Biden will have lunch with Vice President Kamala Harris. … Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
1:15 p.m.: Biden will speak about efforts ot lower energy costs.
3 p.m.: Biden will speak about the bipartisan infrastructure law.
“‘They Forgot About Us’: Inside the Wait for Refugee Status,” by Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Miriam Jordan
“In Documents Review, Special Master Tells Trump Team to Back Up Privilege Claims,” by Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer
“Abortion Pushes Some Suburban Women in West Michigan Toward Democrats,” by Julie Bykowicz in Ada, Mich.
“Biden Open to New Oil Reserve Sales to Cool Prices,” by Ari Natter, Jennifer Jacobs, and Jordan Fabian
“Ukrainians Return Home by the Millions Even as War Rages On,” by Marc Champion
“Russia’s Iranian drones complicate Israel’s balancing act,” by Isabel Debre in Jerusalem
“5 takeaways from a contentious U.S. Senate debate between Val Demings and Marco Rubio,” by Alex Roarty and Ana Ceballos
“In final debate, Darren Bailey calls Chicago ‘Pritzkerville,’ while governor says challenger a threat to democracy,” by Rick Pearson and Dan Petrella
PRESENTED BY PHRMA
The 340B program grew, yet again, hitting a whopping $43.9 billion in sales at the discounted 340B price in 2021. But there has not been evidence of corresponding growth in care provided to vulnerable patients at 340B covered entities. And making matters worse, fresh data show that 340B may actually be driving up costs for some patients and our health care system as whole. The program of today is having the opposite effect of what Congress intended when they created 340B. That’s a problem. It’s time to fix the 340B program. Learn more.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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