Rare defeat for GOP leaders

There was a rare defeat Friday for the Republican leadership in Congress. The House of Representatives voted to allow reimportation of American-made prescription drugs from other countries, where medications often cost a fraction of their US price.

Millions of Americans, especially senior citizens, are finding it increasingly difficult to afford the drugs they need, and obviously Congress members are feeling the pressure from back home.

Democrats and Republicans voted on both sides of the issue, but an impressive 87 Republicans defied their own leaders as well as the White House. They also stood up to more than 600 drug-company lobbyists on Capitol Hill– that according to one of the measure’s chief backers, Republican Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri.

Nevertheless most Republicans remained true to form. Mike Pence of Indiana, one of the opponents, explained that prescription drugs are cheaper in Canada “because Canada, like Germany, like France, are socialist countries. I’m sure pharmaceutical drugs would have been cheaper in the Soviet Union. The truth is, reimportation of drugs is reimportation of price controls, and socialism.”

Not so shockingly, members of Congress who voted against the reimportation bill received nearly three times as much in campaign contributions from the drug industry as did members who voted for it.