Explaining Rep. Pelosi’s F Grade on Drug Prices
Gabriel Levitt, Founder, Prescription Justice
Prescription Justice has graded all members of Congress in a drug prices report card. Some people are dismayed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi received an F. After all, didn’t she roll-out and shepherd H.R. 3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, through the House and vociferously called for its passage on the House floor, as read on the Speaker’s website. So, what happened to her grade? A lot of Rep. Pelosi’s F has to do with her role as Speaker and how it differs from all other legislators.
I admire Speaker Pelosi for many – even most – positions she’s taken and advanced throughout her career – including her work to pass H.R. 3. Not surprisingly, I’m a Democrat! But that cannot change the math of our system of grading.
Due to the methodology and quantitative factors used to create the report card, even a vocal advocate like Rep. Pelosi, can get an F. You see Prescription Justice grades objectively on the following factors: 1) votes; 2) bill sponsorships/co-sponsorships, 3) campaign contributions from drug companies; and 3) policy positions articulated on member’s websites.
In the case of Rep. Pelosi, as with all members, it comes down to action (or the lack thereof). Rep. Pelosi did not vote for H.R. 3 and another drug pricing bill assessed as part of the grade. She also didn’t sponsor/co-sponsor any bills to lower drug prices. She accepted some hefty contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturers and her congressional website was void of any positions on policies to lower drug prices.
Let me repeat, Rep. Pelosi did not vote for H.R. 3. She also did not sponsor or co-sponsor the bill. I’m told that Speakers of the House refrain from certain votes and co-sponsorships of bills and that’s the reason. I respect that. But the methodology that Prescription Justice uses is objective and quantitative and we did not create a carve out for Speakers. In the future, perhaps we can devise an objective method for doing so.
Whatever your thoughts on this, don’t judge the card based on Pelosi’s F. There are 534 other members of Congress. If you look at the rest of the grades, I believe you’ll find that where this one may seem wrong on the surface, you’ll find almost all the others accurately show who is most active and committed to lowering drug prices. For example, would anyone argue that Rep. Jan Schacowsky should get an A+ or that Rep. Doug Collins should receive an F? Go take a look.
Let’s get these grades in front of voters to show them accurately who’s standing up to the drug companies and who’s carrying their water.