Senate Democrats

Reid, In Letter, Stands By Commitment To Allow Senate Consideration Of Drug Importation Legislation By Year’s End

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a letter today to Senators Dorgan, Snowe and McCain, stood by his earlier commitment to consider legislation to permit safe importation of lower-cost prescription drugs as soon as practical.  In Reid’s letter, he cited the full legislative agenda and the use of procedural roadblocks by Senate Republicans to delay Senate action on even the most non-controversial matters as obstacles to considering the legislation.  Underscoring his commitment to action on this issue, Reid guaranteed that if the legislation is not considered as a part of comprehensive health insurance reform efforts, he will move for floor action on the proposal before the end of this year:  
 
Passing S. 1232 [the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009] in the Senate will not be easy,” Reid wrote.  “Senate action on many legislative items has taken significantly longer than one would expect, even for measures that ultimately pass by a broad bipartisan vote.  Numerous objections by Senate Republicans have forced the Senate to jump through procedural hoops that accomplish little more than delaying Senate action.
 
Notwithstanding these obstacles, I stand by my earlier commitment to make sure the Senate considers S.1232 as soon as practicable.  If this issue is not addressed during the full Senate’s consideration of comprehensive health reform, I guarantee that I will move to proceed to S. 1232 before the end of the year.”

September 22, 2009

Senator Olympia J. Snowe
Room 154
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510
 
Senator Byron L. Dorgan
Room 322
Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510
 
Senator John McCain
Room 241
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510
 
Dear Senators:
 
During consideration of H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, I committed to take up legislation that would permit the safe importation of lower-cost prescription drugs as soon as practicable. Shortly after making that commitment, Senator Dorgan and I began the Rule XIV process on S. 1232, the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009.
 
Unfortunately since taking that step, the Senate has experienced an extremely full legislative agenda that has not permitted me to turn to this important legislation as quickly as I would have liked.  In light of the approaching new fiscal year, we have dedicated considerable time to appropriations matters.  (On March 24, I received a letter signed by all Senate Republicans telling me it was critical that the Senate dedicate an “appropriate amount of time” to pass the twelve appropriations bills.) We have also completed action on the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act, a bill to extend the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and the unemployment insurance program, as well as a number of executive nominations.   
 
Passing S. 1232 in the Senate will not be easy.  Senate action on many legislative items has taken significantly longer than one would expect, even for measures that ultimately pass by a broad bipartisan vote. Numerous objections by Senate Republicans have forced the Senate to jump through procedural hoops that accomplish little more than delaying Senate action.  Actions that have been taken by consent with little or no debate now take many days.  Further complicating passage of this legislation is the fact that during its markup of comprehensive health reform the HELP Committee considered and defeated an effort to attach importation language to the underlying bill.  
  
Notwithstanding these obstacles, I stand by my earlier commitment to make sure the Senate considers S. 1232 as soon as practicable.  If this issue is not addressed during the full Senate’s consideration of comprehensive health reform, I guarantee that I will move to proceed to S. 1232 before the end of the year.
                                                           
Sincerely,
                                                          
HARRY REID
United States Senator
Nevada

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