While the Republican Party is publicly dismantling millions of Americans’ health safety net, more than a dozen Democrats late Wednesday quietly threw their weight behind Big Pharma and voted down an amendment that would have allowed pharmacists to import identical—but much less expensive—drugs from Canada and other countries.
The “power and wealth of the pharmaceutical industry and their 1,300 lobbyists and unlimited sums of money have bought the United States Congress,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) declared in a speech on the Senate floor while introducing the amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), which would have been attached to the chamber’s budget resolution. It came amid a flurry of legislative activity during Wednesday evening’s “vote-a-rama.”
“Year after year the same old takes place: the pharmaceutical industry makes more and more money and the American people pay higher ad higher prices,” Sanders continued, asking his colleagues if they “have the guts finally to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry and their lobbyists and their campaign contributions and fight for the American consumer?”
It turns out, no.
In fact, 13 Democrats voted against the measure, siding with the Republican majority and drawing sharp rebuke from observers, who pointed out that many who voted “no” receive substantial contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.