TAMPA, Fla. — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is running digital ads on Facebook criticizing Tampa Bay area Republican lawmakers Ross Spano and Vern Buchanan, following their opposition to a Democratic-sponsored bill, (H.B.3), that aims to lower prescription drug costs.

  • Bay area congressional delegation split on proposals to reduce prescription drug prices
  • The DCCC hopes to oust Spano and Buchanan from their congressional seats next year
  • The bill is considered to be dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate

The bill passed on a largely party-line vote of 230 to 192. Two Republicans voted for it — Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania and Jaime Herrera Buetler of Washington. 

The DCCC is targeting both Republicans in their campaign to try to flip their seats to Democrats in 2020.

“Seniors and working families are demanding action to lower out of control prescription drug manufacturers and special interests,” DCCC spokesman Avery Jaffe said. “These targeted ad buys are a reminder that Florida Republicans once again showed they will always prioritize padding the pockets of their special interest backers over the people they were elected to represent.”

If signed into law, the bill to reduce prescription drug prices would save Medicare $345 billion from 2023 through 2029, according to a preliminary analysis released in October by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. A separate analysis issued by actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the bill would lower U.S. spending on health care by $481 billion over a decade.

The bill is expected to die in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dubbed it “socialist” and Republicans have announced their opposition in recent days by saying that it would block the development of new treatments and impose price controls.

Spano is a freshman Republican representing Florida’s 15th Congressional District encompassing parts of Hillsborough, Polk, and Lake Counties. Democrats think he is vulnerable in 2020 due to the fact that he is now under investigation by the Justice Department for alleged campaign finance law violations.

He announced earlier on Thursday that he would support a competing bill, HR 19, that aims to lower prescription drug costs. 

“H.R. 19 will not only lower drug costs, but will also encourage market competition so that we have the opportunity to get the best medication possible at affordable prices,” Spano said in a statement. “Lowering medical costs has been a priority since I first took office, and I will keep fighting for real change. No one should worry about the cost of getting well.”

Buchanan would appear to be less vulnerable to a Democratic challenger. State legislator Margaret Good is the leading Democrat to oppose him in November. Buchanan's district encompasses parts of Sarasota, Manatee, and southern Hillsborough Counties. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The DCCC says that their Facebook ads targeting Buchanan will air in both English and Spanish.