VOTE EXPLANATION -- (Senate - May 08, 2007)
Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, yesterday, the Senate took two rollcall votes. The first vote was on Senator Cochran's second degree amendment, S.A. 1010, to Senator Dorgan's prescription drug importation amendment, S.A. 990. The Cochran amendment passed the Senate by a 49 to 40 vote. The second vote was on the motion to invoke cloture on the committee substitute amendment to the Prescription Drug User Fee Amendment Act of 2007, S. 1082, which was agreed to by an 82 to 8 vote.
Although I was unable to be present for these two votes, I would like to state for the record how I would have voted. I would have opposed Senator Cochran's amendment which requires the Secretary of HHS to certify that drug importation would not pose any safety risk to consumers. As a matter of practice, the Secretary is not able to certify that any drug from any facility, here in the United States or abroad, would not pose a safety risk. As such, this amendment effectively would block the implementation of Senator Dorgan's amendment.
The fact that the Cochran amendment passed is unfortunate. It is unconscionable that Americans are paying on average twice as much for lifesaving drugs as citizens of other countries, and our State and Federal health programs are struggling to bear these costs.
Finally, my HELP Committee colleagues have spent months negotiating and drafting the Prescription Drug User Fee Amendment Act, which contains a number of critical reauthorizing and drug safety provisions. I would have voted in favor of cloture on this bill and look forward to its passage later this week.