By Julia Rock and Andrew Perez, Jacobin

The pharma-funded Democrats working to stop their party’s plan to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices say they are being misrepresented. Amid outcry from their constituents, these lawmakers have been indignantly telling local voters they are the people who are truly fighting for lower drug prices — even as they block their party’s promised drug pricing legislation. Now, new campaign finance disclosures show that their bait and switch happened as they raked in tens of thousands in campaign cash from pharmaceutical industry donors aiming to keep medicine prices as high as possible.

Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) voted last month to block Democrats from including their signature drug pricing measure in President Joe Biden’s health care and anti-poverty reconciliation bill, after voting for the same measure in 2019.

In response to constituent protest over their votes against the measure, the lawmakers claimed publicly that they are pursuing a more realistic means of lowering drug prices by proposing a watered-down version of the Democrats’ legislation — and insisted that they’re not doing the bidding of corporate interests.

pill bottle on a pile of cash

Peters and Schrader are among the few Democratic representatives who are publicly opposing the party’s plan to give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices. The measure is one of the most popular provisions of the reconciliation bill and has been a key campaign issue for Democrats.

This year between July and September, Schrader and Peters, whose campaigns have consistently relied on pharmaceutical industry cash, received $47,900 and $30,500, respectively from drug industry donors and executives at investment firms with pharmaceutical interests, according to new campaign finance disclosures reviewed by the Daily Poster. The two were among four Democratic lawmakers who voted against the party’s drug pricing plan in House committees on September 15.

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