Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has drawn criticism from many residents after being one of 13 democrats to break party lines and help defeat an amendment introduced partly by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) that would allow the U.S. to import cheaper drugs from other countries.
Sanders has been a vocal opponent of the pharmaceutical industry — a popular campaign talking point was that the U.S. has the most modernized economy in the world, but the average cost of life-saving medicine is ironically here than elsewhere.
Booker has been given $385,678 over his career from the pharmaceutical industry, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Commenters on social media were quick to point out this connection.
Booker posted a response on his Facebook page saying “Any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure that the drugs coming into this country are safe. The amendment I voted against last week didn’t meet this test.”
“Public health leaders have long-stressed the need for strong safety standards coupled with any drug importation plan – everyone from commissioners, top officials, and researchers at the FDA to HHS secretaries under Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton,” he said in the post.
But in December, Booker helped pass the 21st Century Cures Act — which has been criticized as being a give-a-way in disguise for the pharmaceutical industry because it weakens the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the industry.
Booker took the comment section of his Facebook page to defend his decision by linking a Washington Monthly article by Martin Longman titled “The Progressive war on Cory Booker is Stupid” — an article which mentioned nothing about Booker’s concern over the risk to drug safety, but instead was an assessment of what the bill would do.
Bait and switch.
The amendment, “would have given Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, the chairman of the Budget Committee, the discretion to pass a bill on the importation of prescription drugs or other means of lowering the price for American consumers, even if that required him to adjust how monies were allocated to his subcommittees,” the article says.
“For starters, Sen. Enzi voted against giving himself this discretion, so he clearly had no intention of taking advantage of it,” Longman says.
Longman fails to note that the all-time top contributing industry to Enzi is the Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry to the tune of $584,988, according to OpenSecrets.org.
The article tries to deflect from the amendment by mentioning other votes that happened that day, calling the amendment ‘meaningless’ — if it was meaningless how could it impact safety standards — and serving only speculation as to why parties and individuals voted the way they did.
In all, Booker’s response leaves more questions than answers as to why he voted against the amendment.
By Greg Wright