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CEOs Targeted by Senate HELP Committee Chair

Weeks into his tenure as Chair of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has called upon multiple CEOs to testify before the panel, hoping to apply pressure to employers on labor and drug pricing issues. 

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz declined an invitation by the 11 Democratic members of the HELP Committee to participate in a March 9 hearing focusing on “Starbucks’ compliance with Federal labor laws.” Sen. Sanders has since suggested he may use subpoena powers to compel Mr. Schultz to testify, saying to reporters, “One way or another, he will be there.” 

Sen. Sanders has promised to move “very aggressively” on drug pricing, singling out Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. Mr. Bancel agreed to appear before the March 22 panel titled “Taxpayers Paid Billions For It: So Why Would Moderna Consider Quadrupling the Price of the COVID Vaccine?” Moderna has announced a patient assistance program providing coronavirus vaccines without cost to the uninsured or underinsured. In addition, the shot will remain free through Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Large companies can expect to find themselves in the crosshairs of the Sanders-run HELP committee going forward, and corporate leaders could face scrutiny from House Republicans on ESG issues.

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