ADDRESSING THE COST OF INSULIN
This week, I joined my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing on the rising cost of insulin. During the hearing we questioned insulin manufacturers and the middlemen, the pharmacy benefit managers, about the skyrocketing costs of this lifesaving medication and others. The hearing once again confirmed that there must be transparency in the entire prescription drug supply chain in order to lower costs for all patients.
FIGHTING FOR FIRST DISTRICT MILITARY INSTALLATIONS
Also this week I testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to highlight the need to fully support the military installations in the First District of Georgia during fiscal year 2020 budget discussions.
FROM OUR NATION’S CAPITOL CCVI
Friday, April 5: Yesterday afternoon at 6:00 p.m., I left Washington and made the 7.5 hour flight to Brussels, Belgium. Because Brussels is six hours ahead of Washington time, I arrived in Brussels around 7:30 a.m. Along with other members of the Congressional Port Caucus, I am traveling with the Humpty Dumpty Institute to visit the port of Antwerp, Europe’s second-largest seaport, after Rotterdam, and one of the largest in the world. Antwerp is located in the region of Flanders in the northern portion of Belgium where Dutch and English are mainly spoken along with French and German. The Humpty Dumpty Institute tackles tough international problems with the intent of putting “the pieces back together” through the creation of unique and effective public-private partnerships. After arriving in Antwerp and taking a short break to freshen up we get right to work with a visit to the Chamber of Commerce where we meet with the Bureau of the Chamber to introduce ourselves and then have presentations from Luc Luwel, CEO of the Chamber, and Steven Vanackere, Director at the National Bank of Belgium and former minister of Finance and of Foreign Affairs. Afterwards, we visit the Exxon Mobil Antwerp Refinery where we meet with Mr. Wouter De Geest, CEO of BASF Antwerp and president of VOKA, an enterprise network that represents 69% of the private employment and 65% of the added value in Flanders.
Later, we meet with Mr. Philippe De Backer, Minister of the Digital Agenda and Telecommunications.
Saturday, April 6: We begin today with a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Ronald Gidwitz, who brings us up to date on the affairs of Belgium and shares with us details of a public-private partnership to renovate the Mardasson Memorial to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.
Next, we have a visit to DEME, one of the world’s largest players in dredging and environment technology where we meet with Mr. Alain Bernard, Director of DEME and Ms. Cathy Berx, Governor of the Province of Antwerp. Because DEME sails their ships under the Belgium flag and not the U.S. flag, they are prohibited by the Jones Act from bidding on projects in the U.S. as the sole or majority bidder. Next, we visit the Port House, an iconic building where we hear from Mr. Jacques Vandemeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp, before we take a guided tour of the enormous port by boat and witness the operations and infrastructure, including crane operations, shipping terminals and logistical support.
Afterwards, we head back to the Chamber of Commerce where we meet with Mr. Kristian Vancerwaeren, head of the Belgium customs and then meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Later, we meet with Mr. Pieter De Crem, Minister of the Interior.
Sunday, April 7: Today is a special day in Antwerp, as the Tour of Flanders, the annual one-day bicycle race held in Belgium every spring and one of the five monuments of cycling is being run. The event has been run since 1919 and, except for interruptions during World War I, has the longest uninterrupted streak of any cycling classic.
We head down to Market Square where the teams are presented then head to the Steen Castle on the Scheldekaaien where the race is started at 10:30 a.m. by Mr. Bart De Wever, Mayor of Antwerp. Afterwards, we meet with Mayor De Wever, who not only serves as Mayor but also represents the area in the Belgium Parliament. For about an hour, we have a frank and most interesting conversation about the world’s, and particularly Europe’s, state of affairs with the Mayor. Later, we visit the Red Star Line, a legendary shipping line between Antwerp and New York, where hundreds of thousands of Belgium citizens immigrated to the United States.
Monday, April 8: We leave Belgium this morning at 10 a.m. and because we gain 6 hours and the flight is over 7 hours, we arrive back in Washington right after lunch. Once back at the Capitol, I head to a meeting of members of the Select Committee on Climate Change with Department of Energy (DOE) Under Secretary Menezes to discuss climate issues. Afterwards, I head to my office where I meet with the Senior Vice President of Supply Chain with Express Scripts to discuss insulin pricing before heading to our weekly Whip Team meeting. Afterwards, I head to the House Chamber for our first and only vote series of the day.
Tuesday, April 9: After an Energy and Commerce (E&C) members meeting where we are brought up to date by subcommittee ranking members, I head to our weekly GOP Conference meeting before heading down to the House Chamber where I pay tribute to one of my pharmacy mentors, Charlie Waldrop, who will celebrate his 100th birthday later this month. I also pay tribute to my pharmacy school classmate, Dana Strickland, who retired from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy faculty last month and congratulate Ft. Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield on receiving the Army Community of Excellence Gold Award. Finally, I celebrate the life of Ryan Sailors who I enjoyed visiting with at Wesley Monumental Methodist Church and who passed last week at the age of 22. Afterwards, I head to an E&C Environment Subcommittee hearing with the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Andy Wheeler.
Next, I head to an E&C Consumer Protection and Commerce (CPAC) Subcommittee hearing on the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Afterwards, I head to the Appropriations Energy & Water Subcommittee where I testify for projects in the First District. Next, I meet with representatives from Bacon County Hospital followed by a meeting with former Congressman Phil Gingrey. After our weekly staff briefing, I meet with the Georgia Association of Nurse Anesthetists before heading to the House Chamber for our first vote series of the day.
Once back in my office, I meet with the North American Concrete Alliance followed by a meeting with Kia and then with MEAG. After meeting with E&C staff to discuss our insulin hearing scheduled for tomorrow, I have a TeleTown Hall with special guest Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) who currently serves as Chairman of the GOP Conference.
Finally, I head down to the House Chamber where I participate in a special order on disaster relief.
Wednesday, April 10: After a Doctors Caucus meeting where we talk about step therapy and prior approvals, I head to the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee where I testify on behalf of the military installations in our District.
Once back in my office I meet with the American Lung Association, National Ocean Industries Association and the Georgia Hospital Association.
After attending a GOP press conference where we recap the first 100 days of Democratic majority in the House, I head to the House Chamber for our first vote series of the day.
Next, I meet with the CEO of Emory Hospital, Dr. Jonathan Lewin and then head to an E&C Oversight and Investigations (O&I) Subcommittee hearing where we hear from CEOs of pharmaceutical manufacturers as well as pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s).
Thursday, April 11: After returning home last night, I’m on Tybee Island this morning with members of Friends of Cockspur Island Lighthouse as we take a boat right out to the lighthouse to see it upfront. The lighthouse is part of the Fort Pulaski National Monument and the first brick tower, used as a daymark, was built on Cockspur Island between March 1837 and November 1839. Like many other projects in the First District, this project enjoys the enthusiastic support of a great group of volunteers who are dedicated to preserving our area’s history for the benefit of future generations.
Afterwards, I head to our Savannah district office where I meet with newly appointed Richmond Hill City Council member Bill Donahue and later with Kristi Cox, who recently won a special election for City Council. Both of these new members will do an excellent job for this growing community and we are thankful they are willing to serve. Next, I meet with a constituent concerning veterans benefits and then meet with Charles Milmine, former director of the Savannah Science Museum, to discuss climate change.
Afterwards, I am honored to receive the National Parks Conservation Association National Heritage Award for my work on the Restore Our Parks Act that recently passed.
Friday, April 12: I’m at White Bluff Elementary School this morning as I meet with school counselor Terah Cannon and an impressive group of fourth graders from the school.
Recently, the school has participated in the Surplus Books Program at the Library of Congress, a program where surplus books from the Library are sent back to the school for their use. Our office has assisted White Bluff by handling the postage associated with having the books sent to the school.
After reading a book to the students, I enjoy a question and answer session with these amazing students. Next, I head to our Savannah district office where I meet with Christopher Davis, a young man who is advocating on autism awareness and does an excellent job of delivering his message. My final visit of the week is to the Inner City Night Shelter in Savannah where I meet with director Yvonne Pryor as she leads me on a tour of this vital emergency shelter for chronically homeless adult men and women.
Since 1983, Inner City has provided counseling, shelter and other support services to promote self-sufficiency and independent living.