US Sen. Patty Murray held a press conference today bashing Republicans for derailing a three-percent payroll tax cut for the middle class this morning; here's my report on that.
But I also took the opportunity to ask Sen. Murray a couple of questions about this week's other headlines from DC: 1) The Obama administration's decision to overrule the Food & Drug Administration, which recommended allowing emergency contraception to be sold over the counter and 2) the National Labor Relations Board's decision this morning to drop its case against Boeing for alleged retaliation against the machinists' union. Boeing decided last week to build the 737 MAX in the Pacific Northwest as part of a contract agreement with the machinists' union.
Both headlines are big issues for Murray. She (along with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton) held up President Bush's nominee to head the FDA in 2005 when the agency dragged its feet on making the prescription available to adults, giving the pro-choice issue national prominence and momentum.
And Murray made a big deal out of the NRLB case, signing a May 19, 2011 letter demanding that the NLRB pursue the claim without letting politics come into play. The complaint alleged that Boeing hurt the Puget Sound economy by throwing a retaliatory temper tantrum—deciding in 2009 to base its 737 work in South Carolina after a 2008 machinists' strike.
First, PubliCola's mini Q&A on Plan B.
PubliCola: Did the Obama administration abandon its pledge to prevent politics from trumping science this week when they overruled the FDA?
Murray: I've been very clear with the secretary of human services that I believe that FDA has to maintain its gold standard in the world and base their decisions on sound science. I have sent a letter to the secretary asking her for the science that she based her decision on.
PubliCola: Have you spoken to the president?
Murray: I have not. I have not seen him since this happened, but I have spoken to the secretary and made it very clear.
You know, when you go into a drug store to buy any kind of drug or anything off the shelf, in this country we're really fortunate, we've got the FDA ... they certify that everything that is sold is safe and it's effective. That's the standard we have to protect. If politics interferes with science, then we throw into question far into the future what kind of drugs will go on the shelves, what kind of decisions will be made about them, what kind of investments will be made in pharmaceuticals in the years to come, and I just don't want to see that happen.
PubliCola: So, do you think it was politics that trumped science?
Murray: I can't answer the question because I haven't gotten a response back. I'm asking her specifically for the science that she based her decision on. More to come.
And on the NLRB decision:
PubliCola: Do you now think it's okay to drop the complaint against Boeing for potential retaliation against the IAM [International Association of Machinists]?
Murray: I think the decision last week [to build the 737 MAX in Renton] is a great step forward. The lesson out of that is that people from two sides can get together, can solve a real problem, and it is a real boost for our region.
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