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Public Statements

Department Of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, that is disappointing because we have been in communication with all the floor leaders of this bill to actually call up the amendment, but I will certainly proceed to speak on it. It is amendment No. 2400, which is at the desk, which would amend the Homeland Security Appropriations Act to allow the reasonable reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada only.

I am joined in this very important amendment by Senator Nelson of Florida and Senator Stabenow of Michigan, and I thank my colleagues, and many other colleagues, who are supportive of this idea. This will be a continuation of a very important, very productive policy we began last year. Last year, I again joined with Senator Nelson of Florida, Senator Stabenow, and many others in coming forward with this specific amendment on last year's Homeland Security appropriations bill.

We had a full and healthy debate on the topic. After that full and healthy debate, it passed the Senate floor 68 to 32. After it was retained in the conference committee and passed through the House and the Senate in the final version of the appropriations bill, this amendment and the policy was signed into law. Because of that, we effectively ended the practice by Customs and Border Patrol of seizing from Americans what are otherwise lawful, safe, prescription drugs that happen to be purchased from Canada--drugs which are identical to those that can be purchased in the United States.

Again, Mr. President, I want to make clear to all my colleagues that this amendment merely continues the important work we began last year, which received a very resoundingly positive vote of the full Senate--68 to 32. Why do we need to continue that? Well, everybody knows--everybody who buys prescription drugs, everyone who has an elderly parent, grandparent, or aunt whom they are helping in terms of those very real needs and costs--we are burdened with sky-high prescription drug costs in this country, while virtually the rest of the world pays far greater reduced prices for exactly the same prescription drugs. That is the system we are trying to break up and break through. That is what we are trying to end in order to allow Americans to have access to safe and cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, and elsewhere.

It is very important that we take this step forward to continue the policy we started last year, to continue it for this fiscal year, in order to allow Americans this opportunity. Again, I want to underscore several things, at the risk of repeating myself.

No. 1, this is a continuation of what we did last year by a vote of 68 to 32. No. 2, this applies to individuals only, and individual amounts of prescription drugs for individual use. We are not talking about wholesalers, we are not talking about businesses getting into the business of buying from Canada. And, No. 3, this does apply to Canada only. We are not talking about any other country.

Now, let me say straight off that I support much broader and stronger reimportation legislation. I have supported that position consistently since I came to the Senate and before that while I was in the House, and I am very hopeful that I will be successful, working with others on this issue, in passing
that broader reimportation language this year. But in the meantime, this is a very important step forward that we must preserve into the next fiscal year.


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