Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts spoke on the Senate floor to oppose the lame-duck legislation entitled the “21st Century Cures Act.” She reminded Democrats that the party won the national popular vote for both the Senate and the White House and warned them not to “roll over” or “whimper, whine or grovel.” Rather, Democrats should “show some spine” and “fight back” against handing “control to big corporations.”
Her instructions for Democrats followed her complaints about the current legislation. First, here is a partial transcript of her warning for Democrats. Second, below the video, there is a partial transcript of her complaints about the “cures” bill.
DEMOCRATS NEED TO “SHOW SOME SPINE”
Republicans are taking over Congress. They are taking over the White House. But Republicans do not have majority support in this country. The majority of voters supported Democratic Senate candidates over Republicans ones, and the majority supported a Democratic presidential candidate over a Republican one.
The American people didn’t give Democrats majority support so we could come back to Washington and play dead. They didn’t send us here to whimper, whine, or grovel. They sent us here to say no to efforts to sell Congress to the highest bidder. They sent us here to stand up for what is right.
And now, they are watching, waiting, and hoping — hoping we show some spine and start fighting back when Congress completely ignores the message of the American people and return to all its same old ways. Republicans will control this government, but they cannot hand over that control to big corporations unless Democrats roll over and allow them to do so.
It is time for Democrats — Democrats and Republicans who should be ashamed by this kind of corruption — to make it clear who exactly they work for. Does the Senate work for big pharma that hires lobbyists and people who make the campaign contributions or does the Senate work for American people who actually sent us here.
THE CURES BILL
The main purpose of the speech was to oppose the 21st Century Cures Bill. Elizabeth Warren supported many provisions of the act. She decided to oppose the entire thing because the bad outweighed the good and described the good as being held “hostage.”
Elizabeth Warren emphasized three main points. The bill would “legalize fraud” by allowing drug companies to advertise pills for dangerous unapproved uses. The bill would “cover up bribery” by removing disclosure rules for gifts to medical providers. The bill would deregulate specific issues to pay back Republican donors. She also noted that 70 percent of all Americans believe Congress is “owned” by big business, and said the “cures” bill is exactly the type of legislation to indicate such ownership. Transcript of her three main complaints:
First giveaway — legalize fraud.
You know, it is against the law for drug companies to market drugs for uses not approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration]. Now some drug companies find this rule annoying. After all, they can make a whole lot more money selling a headache pill as a cure for everything from hair loss to cancer. But pushing treatments without scientific evidence that they work is fraud — fraud that can hurt people. It also undercuts the development of real cures. And that is why some of the largest law enforcement actions against big drug companies over the past fifteen years have involved ‘off-label marketing.’ Drug companies have paid billions in penalties.
Now, one solution would be for these companies to start following the law. But they prefer Plan B: cozy up to enough people in Congress to pass this cures bill that would shoot holes in the anti-fraud law. In other words, make it easier for drug companies to get away with fraud.
Second giveaway — cover up bribery.
Right now, the law requires drug companies to disclose the buckets of money they shower on doctors and hospitals to encourage them to prescribe certain drugs. It is by the way all published on a government website. You can go look up your doctor or hospital right now online, if you want to do that.
Now, the drug companies could have responded by ending kickbacks. But they’ve chosen Plan B again: cozy up to enough people in Congress to pass this cures bill that would let drug companies keep secret any splashy junkets or gifts associated with so-called ‘medical education’ and make it harder for enforcement agencies to trace those bribes. You know, Senator Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, says he is outraged by this provision. And I got to say, I’m with Senator Grassley on this.
Third giveaway — hand out dangerous, special deals to Republican campaign contributors.
According to news reports, a major Republican donor stands to benefit financially from selling cellular and regenerative medical therapies. If this guy had his way, he’d be able to sell them to desperate people without a final FDA determination that those therapies were either safe or effective. Of course, that would be against the law right now. So this mega-donor has poured millions of dollars into Mitch McConnell’s personal campaign coffers and into his Republican Super PAC, and now he wants his reward. The cures act offers to sell government favors. It delivers a special deal so that people can sell these treatments without meeting the FDA gold standards for protecting patient safety and making sure that these drugs actually do some good.
You know, keep in mind people could die from using unproven treatments. In fact, people have already died even during carefully controlled research experiments on these types of treatments. Congress should not be in the business of selling FDA favors to the highest bidders, risking people’s lives to enrich political donors. Let’s be clear. What the Republicans are proposing is corrupt, and it is very, very dangerous…
The bill is also loaded with “a lot of bad stuff” that is not directly related to health or cures. The bill also includes “good bipartisan proposals” worked on for years that normally should be supported.
If this bill becomes law, there is no question it will contain some real legislative accomplishments. But I cannot vote for this bill. I will fight it because I know the difference between compromise and extortion.
Compromise is putting together common sense health proposals supported by Democrats, by Republicans, and by most of the American people, and passing them into law. Extortion is holding those exact same proposals hostage unless everyone agrees to special favors for campaign donors and giveaways to the richest drug companies in the world…
DRUG COMPANIES DO NOT OWN THE TABLE
While the drug industry may get a seat at the table, they do not own the table. I do not care how many armies of lawyers and lobbyists they send out. I do not care how many campaign contributions they dump into congressional pockets. I do not care how painful they can make life for politicians who oppose them. I will not be their lackey.