Updates from DC: Oversight Rx Drug Hearings, White Supremacy in Law Enforcement, & More
It was another busy week in our nation’s capital as I released the results of the Oversight Committee’s 18-month investigation into skyrocketing prescription drug prices and held two landmark hearings with drug company CEOs. Our committee also examined the infiltration of white supremacists into law enforcement agencies, and my colleagues and I have expanded our investigation into the Administration’s apparent misuse of taxpayer money to pay for a partisan propaganda campaign on COVID-19.
The Committee is also demanding information from the Trump Administration on its decision to abandon anti-bias training for federal employees and we are continuing our joint investigation with the Homeland Security Committee into whistleblower reports of forced medical procedures on individuals in ICE custody. And today, to finish out the week, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus heard from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
On Thursday, my colleagues and I voted to pass an updated Heroes Act to provide much needed relief and support to New Yorkers and all Americans. The bill includes key provisions from the first Heroes Act, including direct stimulus payments, pandemic unemployment benefits, and rent assistance, and also includes urgently needed new funding to respond to emergencies that have emerged in the four months that Senate Republicans have blocked the Heroes Act we passed in May. These new provisions are essential to averting catastrophe for schools, small businesses, restaurants, performance spaces, airline workers and others. The bill includes an estimated $20.69 billion to New York State.
More on all of this and other updates below.
Oversight Rx Drug Investigation and Hearings
Watch Chairwoman Maloney's closing remarks here.
On Wednesday and Thursday, I chaired two landmark, back-to-back hearings on the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs. As we heard from drug company CEOs, the committee released five staff reports showing that drug companies are taking full advantage of the federal law that prohibits Medicare from directly negotiating with these companies to lower prices. These companies are targeting the U.S. for their biggest price increases in the entire world in order to increase profits and yearly bonuses for their executives without regard to the toll this takes on hardworking Americans who need these medications.
These reports, and the testimony of these CEOs, highlights the need for the Senate to act immediately to pass H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This bill has been sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk since December as patients struggle to pay for the care they need.
Read the reports we issued here:
Oversight Hearing: White Supremacy & Law Enforcement
On Tuesday, the Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing on white supremacists infiltrating law enforcement.
Racism is not new to America. It is particularly not new to Black Americans. Since our nation’s founding, racism has been used to treat Black Americans as second class — or no class — citizens. We must never forget that policing in America started with slave patrols. Many slave patrols evolved into police departments that, for decades, have been used to ensure Black Americans were unable to exercise their full rights as citizens.
We are dealing with that legacy today. Many police departments face the continued infiltration of white supremacists into their ranks. As the FBI found, “militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.”
This year, we have seen millions of people march in the streets. They are asking for the end of state-sanctioned killings and calling for the dismantling of systemic injustice.
Their mission is straightforward. They are asking for the bare minimum: that our nation be a place where the lives and deaths of Black Americans matter. But these protests have been met with violence and, in many instances, police-sanctioned violence by white extremist groups.
This hearing was not about good officers versus bad officers. But rather about making sure we, as a nation, acknowledge that white supremacy has no place in any police department. The idiom does not end with just “a few bad apples.” The saying is: “a few bad apples spoil the bunch.” We cannot let white supremacy continue to spoil the bunch.
Watch Frank Meeink, who describes himself as a former white supremacist, explain to me why we should all be worried about white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement and testify that members of his former gang have become police officers.
Protecting Against Unwanted Medical Procedures in ICE Custody
Today, in response to extremely disturbing whistleblower reports that individuals in ICE detention were subject to forced medical procedures, including hysterectomies, I was proud to vote for Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s resolution condemning unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures on individuals without their full, informed consent.
The Oversight and Homeland Security Committees have also launched a joint investigation into these reports, and we will get answers for these detainees, their families, and the American people.
Questioning the Admin’s Decision to Cancel Diversity & Anti-Racism Training
On Wednesday, I wrote to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought, seeking information about the Trump Administration’s cancellation of diversity and anti-racism training in the federal government.
OMB’s memorandum and President Trump’s Executive Order canceling this training exhibited a level of ignorance rarely seen at executive levels in government or the private sector. They hyperventilated that diversity trainings were ‘un-American propaganda’ and ‘race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating.’ These trainings help Americans to understand the history of race and racism in the United States, how that legacy affects government policy, and how they can identify and correct unconscious biases that affect important policy and personnel decisions.
You can read the letter that my colleagues and I sent Acting Director Vought here.
Oversight of Trump Admin’s COVID-19 PR Campaign
Today, I, with my colleagues Rep. James E. Clyburn, the Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, expanded our investigation into the Trump Administration’s apparent misuse of taxpayer funds to pay for a partisan propaganda campaign disguised as a public health information campaign.
We have sent additional document requests to two companies, Atlas Research and DD&T Group, regarding their work on a coronavirus advertising campaign under contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This comes after our first round of requests of information from HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Fors Marsh Group.
You can read more about this effort here.
Examining Political Influence and Interference at HHS
Today, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus held a hearing with HHS Secretary Azar to examine the effects of undue political interference on the agency and its decision making on COVID-19.
I join my colleagues in wishing the President, his family, and the White House staff a speedy recovery. The news of their positive test results underscores the importance of testing asymptomatic individuals who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. We do not know who exposed the President to the virus, or who he may have exposed, but it is imperative that everyone who has come in contact with him get tested.
Yet, on August 24, new guidance appeared on the CDC’s website stating that most asymptomatic people should not be tested even if they have been exposed to the virus. This guidance was directly contrary to the scientific consensus and it has since come to light that this change was not made by CDC scientists, but by the President’s political advisors, who edited the guidance over CDC’s objections.
One federal official told the New York Times, “That was a doc that came from the top down, from the HHS and the task force” and said it “does not reflect what many people at the CDC feel should be the policy.”
When I asked Sec. Azar who authorized the change in this guidance, he refused to answer.
You can read today’s staff analysis that found at least 47 separate incidents of political interference in the Administration’s coronavirus response spanning from February through September 2020 here.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.
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Carolyn B. Maloney
Member of Congress