I’m definitely with Robert Reich (see his statement below) on this one; why would any Democrat worthy of the name vote against cheaper pharmaceuticals from Canada? For the roll call vote, held (appropriately) in the dark of the night Wednesday — when hardly anybody was paying attention — click here. Note that the amendment, “To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to lower prescription drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada,” was rejected on a 46-52 vote, with a whopping 13 (!) Democrats — including our own state’s Mark Warner — voting “nay.”
Again, why? I really don’t get it; the “argument” that this is about protecting Americans from supposedly unsafe drugs from that notorious Third World nation to our north (heh) is, as Reich puts it, “rubbish.” By the way, I contacted Sen. Warner’s office this morning for an explanation as to why he voted “nay” on this, but so far haven’t heard back. If I do, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, here’s what Robert Reich has to say…
If Democrats don’t act like Democrats and stick up for average Americans, who will? Republicans? Trump?
Last night Bernie Sanders introduced a simple amendment urging the federal government to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada (where drugs are considerably cheaper because the Canadian government uses a review board and price negotiation to make drugs more affordable). Such unrestricted drug importation is currently barred by law because Big Pharma doesn’t want anything to cut into its profits.
The Senate voted down the amendment 52-46. It was opposed by most Republicans (no surprise) but also by 13 Democrats, including New Jersey’s Cory Booker, a rising star in the party and a possible 2020 presidential contender. Democrats who opposed it said they were concerned about safety.
Rubbish. Canadians are just as concerned about safety as we are. Most of the drugs that would be imported from Canada were originally manufactured in the United States, anyway.
Booker and other Democrats who opposed the Sanders amendment are longtime friends of Big Pharma. As MapLight data shows, Booker has received more pharmaceutical manufacturing cash over the past 6 years than any other Democratic senator: $267,338. Other Democrats receiving six-figure donations from Big Pharma – Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, Washington’s Patty Murray, and Colorado’s Michael Bennet — also opposed the amendment.
We have no hope of winning back Congress and the presidency – and winning back the confidence of the American people – if elected Democrats take big money and vote the way big money wants them to.