There is so much going on right now, such an absolute shitpile deluge of absurdities rolling in from Washington, that it’s almost possible to overlook the fact that 13 Democratic senators either misread or completely disregarded overwhelming national sentiment and voted against an amendment that would have lowered drug prices. It’s worth paying attention to, however, as it doesn’t really bode well for anyone!
Last night, Senate Republicans took their first leap towards repealing Obamacare by approving a budget procedure that would allow them to avoid a Democratic filibuster. The 13 Democrats who subsequently voted against making drugs cheaper for people deeply undercut the ability of that party to speak with credibility on behalf of the working class.
The amendment, which was proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Bernie Sanders, would have allowed the importation of drugs from Canada. Trump has taken a more Democrat-friendly tone on drug prices—at one point during yesterday’s maniacal press conference he accused pharma companies of “getting away with murder,” which sent stocks tumbling—and 12 Republican senators, including John McCain, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, ended up voting in favor of the bill.
Most notable among the Democratic “nays” is New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who made waves yesterday by testifying against Jeff Sessions, a colleague who very much deserved the breach in Senate custom. Booker is assumed to be eyeing a 2020 bid, and Republican Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) accused him of using the Sessions hearing “as a platform for his presidential aspirations.”
Between 2010 and 2016, a handful of the Democratic senators who voted “nay” were amongst the top Senate recipients funded by pharmaceutical companies: Sen. Booker received $267,338; Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) received $254,649; Robert Casey (D-PA) received $250,730; Michael Bennet (D-CO) received $222,000. As the former mayor of Newark, Cory Booker faced corruption scandals and increased crime and unemployment levels as his star power outside the state rose. He is heavily favored by Wall Street, with securities and investment firms donating $1.88 million to Booker during the 2014 midterm elections; their second-favorite candidate was Mitch McConnell.
Facing a 2020 lineup that apparently also includes fucking Andrew Cuomo, Democrats certainly appear to be setting themselves up for a massive failure, don’t they?
UPDATE: We’ve reached out to Sen. Booker’s office for comment and will update with his response. A representative for Sen. Robert Casey sent Jezebel the following statement:
Saw your story and just wanted to follow up to clarify some of the record. Senator Casey’s record is clear: he is a supporter of importation of drugs from Canada since 2007. Last night, Senator Casey supported an amendment by Senator Wyden that would have allowed the importation of drugs from Canada. On a separate amendment, Senator Casey had some concerns about drug safety provisions that couldn’t be resolved in the 10 minutes between the votes. Senator Casey will continue to fight for the safe importation of drugs from Canada.
UPDATE, 1:07 PM: Sen. Booker provided Jezebel with the following statement:
I support the importation of prescription drugs as a key part of a strategy to help control the skyrocketing cost of medications. Any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure foreign drugs meet American safety standards. I opposed an amendment put forward last night that didn’t meet this test. The rising cost of medications is a life-and-death issue for millions of Americans, which is why I also voted for amendments last night that bring drug prices down and protect Medicare’s prescription drug benefit. I’m committed to finding solutions that allow for prescription drug importation with adequate safety standards.
Correction: The headline of this post has been updated to reflect that the amendment required 60 votes to pass.