Slotkin talks prescription drug prices, PFAS at East Lansing event

Freshman Dem defends impeachment vote

By: - February 22, 2020 7:43 am

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (L) and State Rep. Julie Brixie (R) at East Lansing High School, Feb. 21, 2020 | Allison Donahue

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) held her first “State of the 8th District” event Friday night at East Lansing High School, where she recapped her first year in Congress and announced two bipartisan bills regarding border security and the cost of insulin.

Slotkin was joined by state Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Twp.) and East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier. There was a packed crowd, largely composed of supporters and some quiet Republican protesters. Earlier in the week, Slotkin appeared at events with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“We have a very disparate district; three counties that are very different. As I travel around Ingham, Livingston and North Oakland, it is clear to me that there are some important themes that people are worried about,” Slotkin said. “And therefore, these are the issues that I spend my time on in D.C. They include bringing down the cost of health care and prescription drugs, ensuring that our environment is secure and safe, particularly our drinking water and bringing stability and decency back to politics.”

During the question-and-answer portion of the event, one constituent asked Slotkin — who flipped a Republican seat in 2018 — if she regretted voting to impeach President Donald Trump. 

Slotkin said that impeaching the president was “the last thing” she wanted to do in her first year of Congress. 

“To be honest with you, in this district, I understood that it would be deeply controversial. I understood that I could lose my job,” Slotkin said. “But there are some things that are more important than winning your next election.” 

The crowd gave her a standing ovation for this answer. That was in contrast to a raucous town hall she held in December at Oakland University, where a group of GOP protesters interrupted as she discussed why she would be voting yes on impeachment. Her highly anticipated decision was supported by her progressive constituents, many of whom wanted her to announce the decision earlier. 

Slotkin to vote yes on impeachment: ‘This is bigger than politics’

For the majority of the event Friday, Slotkin didn’t talk about the president, but instead focused on legislation she’s worked on. 

Slotkin announced that she will be co-leading in the U.S. House is the bipartisan Insulin Price Reduction Act, which she said would lower the rising costs of insulin back down to 2006 levels. 

Currently, the average price for leading insulin brands is about $300; under this legislation, it would be approximately $68 a vial.

In December, Slotkin voted for the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which passed the House and she co-sponsored. HR 3 allows Medicare to negotiate for drug prices. However, the bill is not expected to clear the GOP-controlled Senate, and Trump has threatened to veto it.

“It uses basic Costco math. If you buy a lot of something, you should pay a lower price,” Slotkin said. 

Michigan Dems vote for landmark U.S. House prescription pricing bill

Slotkin, a former CIA analyst and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, also announced Friday the introduction of her new bipartisan border security bill. The INTEL at Our Border Act would require the Department of Homeland Security to create a comprehensive strategy to integrate new technologies at the border, such as surveillance technology, 3D modeling, radar and laser scanning technology for detecting underground tunnels.

Slotkin said that “border security should not be a political issue. It is a homeland security issue.”

“These technologies allow us to improve the security we have, while also acting humanely consistent with our principles as a country,” Slokin said. 

In July, the freshman Democrat visited the southern border with several members of the U.S. House’s Problem Solvers Caucus, which was the first bipartisan trip of its kind. She visited the northern border earlier that month.

Slotkin: Border camps ‘a tragedy … for every single link in the chain’

Slotkin also addressed environmental issues, especially harmful the chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS.

“If you can’t give your child a glass of water and not be sure that he or she is going to get an early childhood cancer, if you can’t fish the Huron River where you learned to fish, that is a threat to our way of life,” Slotkin said. 

In May, Slotkin introduced the PFAS Monitoring Act of 2019, which aims to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to require all public water systems to test for PFAS, particularly in small towns and municipalities. 

“I believe that we should treat environmental security like homeland Security. It is about our way of life, our safety and security of our family,” Slotkin said. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.