Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) Will Not Seek Reelection, Likely To Head PhRMA
Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) will resign as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee effective Feb. 16 and will not seek reelection in November, according to a letter Tauzin sent Tuesday to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), the Washington Post reports (Ahrens, Washington Post, 2/4). Tauzin spokesperson Ken Johnson said that Tauzin decided to resign as committee chair in large part because of health concerns and did not "confirm whether Mr. Tauzin is considering any job offers," the Washington Times reports (Fagan, Washington Times, 2/4). According to the Post, Tauzin last week recused himself from committee issues related to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which in January offered Tauzin a position as president, and "is expected to take the PhRMA offer and leave the House before his term expires" (Washington Post, 2/4). Johnson last week said that Tauzin was weeks away from a decision about whether he would leave Congress to take the position with PhRMA, adding that "there is no deal with PhRMA." PhRMA President and CEO Alan Holmer, who has served as president of PhRMA since 1996, earlier last month announced that he would resign after a replacement is selected later this year (California Healthline, 1/29).
According to CongressDaily, Tauzin sent the letter to Hastert "just hours after" consumer advocacy group Common Cause called for him to resign as committee chair "while he negotiated a job with PhRMA" (Wegner, CongressDaily, 2/4). Last week, consumer advocacy group Public Citizen requested a House Standards of Official Conduct Committee investigation into whether Tauzin negotiated a position with PhRMA last year during the debate on the new Medicare law (Bolton/Kaplan, The Hill, 2/4). Johnson said that "no one at any time approached" Tauzin from PhRMA during the debate (Washington Times, 2/4). Some House Republicans last week said that they "looked unfavorably on what they said might appear to be a conflict of interest," the Post reports. However, according to Johnson, "Absolutely no one in leadership ... asked him to step down" as committee chair (Washington Post, 2/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.