Senate Republicans vow to block financial services spending bill

A group of Senate Republicans have told their leadership they will block consideration of fiscal 2011 Financial Services Appropriations legislation if a pharmaceutical "pay-for-delay" amendment that Senate appropriators attached to the spending bill isn't stripped out of the measure.

In a letter sent to Senate GOP leaders Friday, Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, John Thune of South Dakota, and John Cornyn of Texas said the inclusion of the amendment in appropriations legislation "is a gross breach of Senate custom," because the Judiciary Committee considered similar legislation in October.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Financial Services bill July 29 on a party-line vote of 18-12, with all Republicans voting against the measure.

The pharmaceutical provision seeks to prevent brand-name and generic drug manufacturers from agreeing to settlements that essentially trade cash for promises that generic drug firms will not challenge brand-name drug patents for a set period of time.

It is similar to legislation by Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., which nearly all Republicans on the Judiciary Committee opposed last year. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the Kohl language would save the government $2.6 billion over 10 years by allowing generic drugs to enter the market sooner, thereby reducing Medicare and Medicaid pharmaceutical spending.

Kohl's "pay-for-delay" legislation has been considered most recently in the House when it passed a version of the fiscal 2010 war supplemental on July 1. House Democrats swapped their proposal prohibiting all deals between brand-name and generic firms in favor of Kohl's legislation, which doesn't ban the agreements, but establishes a legal presumption in any Federal Trade Commission proceeding that any deal to limit the release of a new drug is anticompetitive and illegal.

Kohl's measure would give companies the opportunity to prove to the FTC, with clear and convincing evidence, that the agreement would benefit industry competition.

But the legislation never made it to the Senate floor as part of the supplemental, and a similar provision also was stripped from the Senate's healthcare overhaul bill.

The Senate Republicans opposed to having the amendment in the Financial Services spending bill said they did not believe the FTC could successfully mediate the conflicting interests of the generic and brand-name drug manufacturers.

"We believe that the reported bill gives excessive power over such settlements to the FTC," they said, "and that the bill would do serious violence to the Hatch-Waxman process for the market entry of generic drugs."

Despite objections, it is unlikely any individual non-national security appropriations measures will make it the Senate floor before a continuing resolution is needed by the start of the new fiscal year Oct. 1 to pay for government operations.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.