Democrats on Thursday attacked Billy Tauzin, the Louisiana congressman who was instrumental in passing prescription drug legislation, for negotiating a lucrative lobbying job with the pharmaceutical industry before leaving Congress.
Mr Tauzin, who announced on Tuesday that he would resign as chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, is negotiating with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the main pharmaceutical trade group, to become its chief executive.
"I think that there are some questions that need to be answered about how the manager of the Medicare prescription drug bill received, from what I hear from the press, over a $2m offer to go work for [the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America]," said Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader.
In recent weeks, Mr Tauzin has attracted growing criticism for negotiating a job lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry, which stands to gain billions of dollars from the legislation he was instrumental in pushing through Congress.
"I think it answers the question very clearly for seniors: if you want to know the price of selling seniors down the river, it's approximately about $2m a year if you want to hire the manager of the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives," added Ms Pelosi.
Mr Tauzin's office declined to comment.
Other Democrats have questioned whether Mr Tauzin, who says he recused himself from related issues, should have been negotiating with the pharmaceutical industry while chairman of the committee.
"It smells like a rotten fish to me. This is one of the most important pieces of domestic legislation that the House of Representatives has considered in many years and Tauzin was a bulldog when it came to the provisions," Ted Strickland, an Ohio congressman, said in an interview yesterday.
Democrats have criticized other key people in the Medicare legislation who have since left to lobby.
Jan Schwakowsky, a Chicago congresswoman, criticized the Bush administration this week for giving Thomas Scully, the president's chief adviser on the Medicare overhaul, a waiver to negotiate for a healthcare lobbying job at a Washington law firm.
John McManus, a top aide on the House ways and means committee, which was involved in the Medicare legislation, left the committee on Wednesday to set up his own lobbying group that will deal with healthcare issues, a committee spokesman confirmed.
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