Politics

Bernie Sanders Bends Cory Booker To His Will

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Democratic favorite Sen. Cory Booker outraged progressives earlier this year by opposing a Sen. Bernie Sanders-led measure that signaled support for allowing Americans to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

Now, it looks like Sanders has Booker back in line.

Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party who is widely expected to run for president in 2020, was criticized by his own party in January when he and 12 other Democrats joined the GOP to vote down Sanders’ largely symbolic proposal: a non-binding budget amendment that wouldn’t have changed things on its own.

The defection led Sanders to slam his fellow Democrats for failing to have the “guts” to vote against the “powerful special interests” of the pharmaceutical industry. “I absolutely hope that in the coming weeks and months you’re going to see many of them develop the courage to stand up to Pharma,” Sanders said.

Today, Sanders can add Booker to that list. Sanders and Booker, along with several other Democrats, will introduce a fully developed bill to allow drug imports from Canada, this time including some language that Booker said was missing from Sanders’ original effort, according to Axios.

“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,” Booker said in a statement after the January vote. “I opposed an amendment put forward last night that didn’t meet this test…I’m committed to finding solutions that allow for prescription drug importation with adequate safety standards.”

Despite his protestations, Booker attracted widespread criticism from Democrats due to his connections with the pharmaceutical industry. Fourteen of the world’s 20 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world are headquartered in Booker’s New Jersey; he has received $267,338 in donations from various drug companies — the third highest recipient of pharmaceutical funding in the Senate.

The policy of allowing drug imports from Canada has broad support among both parties. The Kaiser Family Foundation found in 2016 that 71 percent of Americans supported the option, with significant majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents calling it both positive and effective.

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