News organization Politico reports that U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) “got into a back-and-forth with” the staff of Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) last week Thursday, July 29, over Cawthorn’s listing as a co-sponsor of legislation to protect 340B covered entities from “pickpocketing” by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and other third-party payers.
McKinley and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) introduced H.R. 4390, the PROTECT 340B Act, on July 9. According to Congress.gov, the official website for U.S. federal legislative information, Cawthorn co-sponsored H.R. 4390 on July 27 then withdrew his co-sponsorship on July 30.
Cawthorn, the youngest lawmaker in the House and vocal conservative member, has made quite a splash in his seven months in Congress. In addition to allegedly screaming at McKinley’s staff and allegedly getting into a heated argument on the floor with McKinley, he was stopped in February by the TSA in Asheville, N.C., carrying a loaded gun. He also has vowed to prosecute Dr. Anthony Fauci for “directly lying to Congress” and working as pawn of the Chinese communist party.
A McKinley staffer filed an ethics complaint against Cawthorn over last week’s episode, Politico reported on July 30. This is a highly unusual move. The House Ethics Committee this morning declined to comment on whether a complaint was filed.
The House Code of Official Conduct says members and employees “shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”
Politico reported that the episode in McKinley’s office occurred on Thursday morning. Later that afternoon, Politico said, Cawthorn and McKinley had a heated exchange on the House floor about the matter. According to press reports, during the shouting match, McKinley criticized Cawthorn for his treatment of McKinely’s staff’s while Cawthorn pushed for McKinley to take his name off the bill. According to House rules, it is up to the lawmaker who signs on to a bill to remove his name, not the lead co-sponsor. McKinley repeatedly called Cawthorn “junior” during the argument which was heard by many lawmakers as well as some reporters.
Neither Cawthorn nor McKinley’s offices responded to requests for comment yesterday about the July 30 story in Politico.
Spanberger, H.R. 4390’s other original co-sponsor, tweeted on Thursday night, “Want to know what they were fighting about? The bipartisan bill @RepMcKinley and I introduced to lower drug costs — especially in rural America — and hold PBMs accountable. Rep. McKinley’s work actually matters a lot to people struggling to afford their medicine.”
According to Congress.gov, the bill had 13 co-sponsors as of this morning—seven Democrats and six Republicans. It prohibits insurers and PBMs from discriminating against 340B providers or their contract pharmacies by imposing different rules or reimbursement terms than are imposed on other providers or pharmacies. H.R. 4390 also calls for a new independent national drug claims clearinghouse to ensure that states do get duplicate Medicaid rebates on 340B-purchased drugs.