Senator Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment to a bill urging the federal government to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, where they are considerably cheaper. Such unrestricted drug importation is currently prohibited by law.
The policy has widespread support among Americans: one Kaiser poll taken in 2015 found that 72 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing for importation. President-elect Donald Trump also campaigned on a promise to allow for importation.
The Senate voted down the amendment 52-46, with two senators not voting. 13 Republicans joined Sanders and a majority of Democrats in supporting the amendment, while 13 Democrats and a majority of Republicans opposed it.
One of those Democrats was New Jersey’s Cory Booker, who is considered a rising star in the party and a possible 2020 presidential contender.
Booker and other Democratic Senators who opposed the Sanders amendment have been longtime dependents on drug industry donations. Its reported that Booker has received more pharmaceutical manufacturing cash over the past six years than any other Democratic senator: $267,338. In addition, significant numbers of pharmaceutical and biotech firms reside in Booker’s home state of New Jersey,