With the latest revelations about his soured relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions dominating cable news and accounts of migrant children ripped from their mothers’ arms under “zero-tolerance” immigration policies trickling in from the southern US border, President Donald Trump was eager to sign so-called “Right to Try” legislation on Wednesday and declare a victory for the White House.
The legislation, championed by free-market groups and ushered through Congress by Republicans with a spattering of Democratic support, gives patients with terminal illnesses the right to try experimental medications that have passed initial safety trials but have not been rigorously tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Right to Try has plenty of critics in the medical field, but Trump has always been more of a pitchman than a policy wonk during his short time in politics.
At the White House signing ceremony, Trump praised Republican lawmakers and administration officials for bringing the bill to his desk. He even complemented FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who was initially skeptical of the legislation, on his socks. (“Ooh, I like those — I like those socks, Scott,” reads the official White House transcript.) The president thanked his colleagues for their “extraordinary courage, determination and love,” adding that thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of lives would be saved after signing the bill into law.
“These are experimental treatments and products that have shown great promise, and we weren’t able to use them before. Now we can use them,” Trump said. “And oftentimes they’re going to be very successful. It’s an incredible thing.”
For Trump, signing the legislation appeared to be a no-brainer: just cut the regulatory red tape and let the people access new cures. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later lamented that cable news outlets were more interested in Trump’s response to Rosanne…