WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 06: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a news conference on better wages for workers, on Capitol Hill October 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sanders held the news conference to introduce legislation designed to make it easier for workers to join together and bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
In a string of late night votes, dubbed a “vote-o-rama” , Senators from both parties spent 4 hours casting votes on all sorts of legislations. One particularly important piece was the Bernie Sanders backed Sanders-Klobuchar amendment that would have allowed Americans to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. Despite receiving support from 12 Republicans, including conservative stalwart Ted Cruz, 13 Democrats voted against it and killed the amendment.
Only 6 needed to affirm the amendment, but those votes were nowhere to be found. What was found though is a very peculiar pattern. The Democrats who voted no received an overwhelming amount of financial support from the pharmaceutical industry.
Senators with supposed presidential aspirations such as Corey Booker voted no. Senators like Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell from a progressive state like Washington voted no. Senators like Michael Bennet and Mark Warner from swing states like Colorado and Virginia, respectively, voted no. Democratic senators from conservative states like Indiana and Montana voted no, despite Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic Primary in their states by overwhelming margins. There is no clear reason for these no votes, other than money.
One thing each of these senators has in common is an exceptionally large chunk of their campaign contributions come from the pharmaceutical industry. For example Corey Booker received $385,000 from the pharmaceutical industry since 2011. Joe Donnelly of Indiana received $245,000 and Jon Tester from Montana received $135,000 in contributions since 2011. In a small state that is no small sum of money.
Each of the Democratic senators who voted no received over $50,000 in contributions from the pharmaceutical industry since 2011.
It’s hard to believe that money was not connected to those no votes. Especially considering importing prescription drugs would undoubtedly lower the price average Americans pay. The only real downside is less profit for the pharmaceutical industry. And for millions of voters that isn’t a downside at all, it’s commonsense.