What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : The Chronically Ill : H R 2673. Fiscal 2004 Omnibus Appropriations/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Include Provisions in the Omnibus Conference Report Which Would Allow the Importation of Less-Expensive Canadian Prescription Drugs Into the United States. (2003 house Roll Call 624)
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H R 2673. Fiscal 2004 Omnibus Appropriations/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Include Provisions in the Omnibus Conference Report Which Would Allow the Importation of Less-Expensive Canadian Prescription Drugs Into the United States.
house Roll Call 624     Nov 18, 2003
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

Each year, Congress must pass and the president must sign thirteen appropriations bills to finance the operation of government for the upcoming year. If the thirteen spending bills cannot be completed on time, then the government-specifically those areas of government that Congress has failed to appropriate money for-shuts down. (A partial government shutdown occurred in 1995 when President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich failed to reach a compromise on spending issues.) In an effort to expedite passage of the required appropriations legislation and prevent a government shutdown, Republican leaders bundled five uncompleted spending bills into an "omnibus" appropriations bill. Republican leaders were then able to secure passage of the omnibus bill in both the House and Senate and the two versions of the omnibus bill were sent to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the two forms of the bill. In an effort to influence the policy debate within the conference committee, Congressman Obey (D-WI) motioned to instruct House conferees-those lawmakers selected by the House leadership to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill in conference committee negotiations with the Senate-to include provisions in the House omnibus bill which would allow individuals and health providers in the U.S. to import prescription drugs from Canada. Progressives supported Obey's motion as a way to allow individuals in the U.S. to take advantage of cheaper prescription drug prices in Canada. Many if not most prescription drugs, Progressives noted, are sold in Canada at significantly reduced prices in comparison to the prices of identical drugs that are sold in the United States. Progressives argued that the differences in prices between U.S. and Canadian prescription drugs-which they characterized as price gouging on the part of U.S. pharmaceutical companies-can be attributed to the powerful influence of the pharmaceutical industry on Capitol Hill. Conservatives voted in opposition to Obey's motion as a way to protect citizens in the U.S. from the alleged potential hazards of prescription drugs from Canada. Canadian drugs, Conservatives argued, are not inspected for quality and purity as thoroughly as are U.S. drugs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Obey motion attracted strong support among Democrats and, with the help of seventy-four Republicans, the motion was adopted 237-176 and House conferees were instructed to include language in the omnibus conference report which would allow citizens and health providers in the U.S. to import and sell Canadian prescription drugs in the U.S.

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