10:54 AM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I am very pleased to be joined today by my distinguished colleague from Alabama, Senator Richard Shelby. We wish to present the Commerce-Justice appropriations bill to the Senate. What I wish to say to my colleagues is that as we do this, everyone should know this bill is a product of bipartisan cooperation. At times, when one views the Senate through the lens of the media, one would think that everything we do here is very prickly and very partisan. But

that is not true, certainly of the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations.

Senator Shelby and I worked together on this bill. Yes, I do chair it, but it has been with maximum consultation with others on the other side of the aisle. It was the same way when Senator Shelby chaired this committee.

We are pleased to present to the Senate the fiscal year 2010 bill to fund the Departments of Commerce and Justice and air science agencies. I thank Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell for allowing to us to bring the CJS bill to the floor.

The CJS bill is a product of cooperation between Senator Shelby and me and our excellent staff. We have worked hand in hand. I thank Senators Inouye and Ranking Member Cochran for their allocation.

We were able to write a very good bill, but the stringent budget environment required the subcommittee to make difficult decisions. The CJS bill totals $64.9 billion in discretionary spending, consistent with the subcommittee's 302(b) allocation. So any amendments to the bill will need to be offset.

The purpose of the CJS bill is to fund the Department of Commerce and its bureaus and administration. Many people do not know what the Department of Commerce truly does. It is an array of complex agencies that is important to our economy: The Bureau of Industry and Security gives licenses for exports; the Economic Development Administration creates economic growth in our communities, particularly midsized to small towns; the Census Bureau, preparing now, somewhat unevenly, for the 2010 census;

the Patent and Trade Office which protects our intellectual property; along with the International Trade Administration which enforces our trade laws.

We are particularly proud of the Commerce Department, of the National Institutes for Standards and Technology. It sets the standards for technology which allows our country and our companies to be able to compete in the global marketplace.

This subcommittee also funds the Department of Justice which keeps us safe from violent crime and terrorism. It prosecutes criminals of all kind--white collar, blue collar or no collar. It also has a vigorous approach to the despicable practice of being a sexual predator.

This subcommittee through the Department of Justice funds our State and local police departments which are so important as well from not only the enforcement end but the prosecution end through the U.S. Attorney's Office.

NASA is also funded through this subcommittee. It explores our planets and our universe and inspires our Nation and next generation to be scientists and engineers.

We also fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, protecting our marine resources and the jobs that depend on them.

It also protects our weather to save lives. Many people don't realize that the wonderful weather reports they get in their communities comes because of the NOAA weather administration. They think it comes from the Weather Channel. We all love the Weather Channel, but the Weather Channel depends on NOAA.

The National Science Foundation is also funded, providing basic research at our universities to advance science and support teacher training and development.

We also fund several independent commissions and agencies, including the Commission on Civil Rights, the EEOC, the Legal Services Commission, the International Trade Commission, and the U.S. Trade Representative.

Senator Shelby's and my No. 1 priority is making sure that 300 million Americans who work hard and play by the rules are safe from terrorism and violent crime. We also want to protect jobs in our country. So we are the basic investors in innovation through education and through promoting an innovation-friendly government, making strategic investments in research and education in science and technology, keeping America No. 1 in science and also No. 1 in the space exploration program.

We want to create jobs in America that will stay in America. However, we, too, are fiscal stewards of the public purse and, therefore, accountability has been a hallmark of our bipartisan relationship. We do stand sentry against waste, fraud, and abuse with strong fiscal accountability and stewardship of hard-earned taxpayers' dollars.

I wish to take a few minutes to talk about keeping America safe. The CJS bill provides $27.4 billion for the Justice Department. We actually went above the President's request by $300 million because we wanted to make an extra effort to protect our homeland and protect our hometowns.

This bill is one of the most important sources of Federal funds for State and local law enforcement, for our frontline men and women of our State and local police forces. It is the cops on the beat who protect our families and at the same time they are asked to do more.

We are providing $3.2 billion to support that thin blue line to make sure the police are safe with equipment they need, such as bulletproof vests and also new technologies.

``CSI'' is not only a great TV show, but we think CSI should be funded in the Federal budget to use the best of science to catch the worst of the criminals.

We also fund Byrne formula grants, and this bill will provide $510 million for State and local police operations to do their job.

We are funding important programs in juvenile justice, which are very key programs of intervention and mentoring, but also very strong programs for antigang efforts--$407 million.

We also want to prevent, protect, and prosecute when it comes to violence against women, whether it is domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, or stalking--over $435 million--the highest level of funding ever.

We also have very important Federal law enforcement. All of us know and love the FBI. This bill will provide $7.9 billion to keep us safe from violent crime and also white collar crime, investigating financial and mortgage fraud.

I want to acknowledge the role of Senator Shelby, who is an authorizer on the Banking Committee and a member of this Appropriations Committee. He has taken on the issue of mortgage fraud and wanted it to be thoroughly investigated. We have done that through the FBI.

Many people don't realize, though, that after 9/11, when everyone was clamoring for something like the MI-5, such as the British have, we said: Three cheers for the British way, but we want a USA way, so we created an agency within an agency where the FBI is part of our most significant fight against terrorism. [Page: S10182]

We also fund the Drug Enforcement Agency to fight international narcoterrorists and drug kingpins. This bill provides $2 billion to do it.

I am very proud of the FBI because in the last few weeks their work has led to the arrest of two terrorism suspects who planned to blow up buildings in Texas and in Illinois. While they were working hard, the efforts of the DEA led to the arrest of drug kingpins who were shipping 95 kilograms into New York City.

We also have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the Marshals Service, each of which has been funded at $1 billion-plus.

Our U.S. attorneys, who are the prosecutors of Federal crimes, have been provided $1.9 billion, a significant increase.

Once we catch and prosecute these criminals, there has to be Federal prisons, and we want to make sure our communities are secure and our prison guards are safe. This is one of the tattered areas of neglect, and we are very concerned about the safety of our prison guards. This bill provides $6.1 billion to upgrade, where necessary, the protective devices to ensure criminals are held securely--acknowledging their rights, but also the rights of those who guard them need to be kept too. Their first

right is the right to security, guaranteed by their own government.

We look to protecting our children and our communities, and when it comes to protecting our children, crimes have gotten more sophisticated in terms of the Internet and other things that are used to lure children into terrible criminal situations. We have provided over $265 billion to deal with the issue of sexual predators, and we will continue that fight.

While we are busy fighting crime and protecting our children, we also need to protect America's jobs, and this is where science and innovation come in with an amazing race to keep America competitive.

This bill provides $880 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology and, particularly, $70 million for the new Technology Innovation Program and $125 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, so that we can keep manufacturing in our country. We also want to do the basic research that is needed for the new ideas that will come up with the new products for the new jobs.

This bill provides $6.9 billion for the National Science Foundation, and for NOAA we provide $4.7 billion, including $980 million for our weather service and $870 million for our fisheries.

This bill also funds our space program: $18.7 billion for NASA. In the space program, we don't agree with the House strategy; we agree with the White House strategy. The House strategy includes $500 million for the NASA exploration program. We believe we need to meet our obligations to fully fund the space shuttle and the space station. For the space shuttle, we need to make sure we keep our astronauts safe and our space station is able to continue the work we have begun. We also need to invest

in the next generation of space vehicles at $3.6 billion.

It is very important we meet our obligations, our international obligations, as well as our obligations to our astronauts and to our Earth-bound scientists. However, if you meet those scientists, they are not bound by Earth very much. They are continually breaking barriers.

We know the House withheld money while waiting for the Augustine report. Well, we have the Augustine report. We know where the President wants to go. We know what the key advisers in the astronaut community have recommended to us--the gallant leaders from the past, such as Buzz Aldrin and John Glenn, to the most contemporary right now. I might add we have a space Senator in Senator Bill Nelson, one of our authorizers. So we have worked hand-in-hand with our authorizers.

We are also working very hard in terms of protecting our intellectual property. We have been concerned through the Bush administration--well, the Clinton administration, the Bush administration, and now we want to deal with this during the Barack Obama administration--that we have too many backlogs at our Patent and Trademark Office. We want to reduce those. American ingenuity should not have to stand in long lines to get their patents to protect their intellectual property and to come up with

the products that will go into the global marketplace and at the same time create jobs here.

We are also very proud of what we do to protect our planet, and what we have done through NASA Earth science--$1.4 billion--and also what we are doing in weather satellites--$1.2 billion--which are very important global warming tools. If we can better protect and warn, we can save lives and save money.

The CJS bill ensures our constitutional obligation to do the 2010 census. We provide $7 billion to the Census. We are working hand-in-glove with Secretary Locke to make sure the Census Bureau is well organized to be able to do this very important job.

There are many more things we can talk about, but I know my colleague, Senator Shelby, wants to discuss the bill, and our good friend from Arizona has an amendment. So, Mr. President, I will amplify these other parts of the bill as we move forward.

I know Senator Shelby will return in a moment or two, so with deference and the usual courtesy and comity, if the Senator from Arizona wishes to offer his amendment, and then when Senator Shelby returns he can make his statement, we will just keep the business of the Senate moving as promptly and as well as we can.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

11:10 AM EDT

John S. McCain III, R-AZ

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I say to the distinguished manager, the Senator from Maryland, that I will be glad to interrupt my amendment upon the return of the Senator from Alabama, if he wishes to speak, and then I will continue after that. I thank the Senator from Maryland for her hard work and excellent explanation of the legislation before the Senate.

This amendment would lower health care costs for Americans immediately. It would provide access to safe, less expensive imported prescription drugs. For far too long, powerful lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry have stood in the way of Americans' access to affordable imported drugs. Their enormous political campaign contributions made in return for political support of their agenda and their secret unsavory deal with the White House in exchange for their support of the health care reform

have further contributed to the American people being prevented from accessing cheaper prescription drugs.

Instead, Americans continue to pay 60 percent or higher for the same prescription drugs that are sold in Canada. This amendment is necessary because Americans need access to lower cost drugs now. They need it now due to these difficult economic times. We all know about unemployment. Americans' salaries are being cut, household budgets are slim, and millions of Americans are struggling to make their [Page: S10183]

monthly mortgage payments. For these reasons, and so

many more, Americans should not be forced to wait another day to purchase safe and affordable prescription drugs from outside the United States. While Americans all over the country are having to choose between their next meal and their necessary prescriptions, the large pharmaceutical companies continue to pressure Congress to delay consideration of any legislation to allow the importation of safe and lower priced prescription drugs.

I would like to also point out this is legislation on an appropriations bill, something I have long opposed, and still oppose. But there has been an unusual process taking place, and that process is one which has forced me to come to this situation. On two separate occasions the majority leader of the Senate assured me that legislation would be taken up before the Senate, and both times he has changed his mind. The majority leader resisted consideration of an amendment to allow for the importation

of prescription drugs during debate on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

At the time, the majority leader said on the Senate floor:

This is something that should have been done, I am sorry to say, years ago, not weeks ago.

This issue is important legislation. If it should have been done years ago, then why wasn't it brought up for consideration immediately after the tobacco bill in June? While the stand-alone bill to allow importation--S. 1232--was placed on the Senate's calendar on June 11, 2009, there has been no further effort by the majority leader to call it up for consideration. Instead, he sent me a letter stating:

I committed to take up legislation that would permit the safe importation of lower-cost prescription drugs as soon as practicable.

The practicable time was back in June. There is no practical reason to prevent the majority leader from calling up this bill for a vote at any time.

I was told verbally by the majority leader as short a time as 3 weeks ago that upon the completion of consideration of the Defense appropriations bill that this legislation would be brought to the floor of the Senate. Then a week later I was told, no; that is not going to be the case. So I have been waiting for ``as soon as practicable,'' and so have millions of Americans who are looking for cheaper alternatives to the high-priced prescription drugs.

The majority leader also stated in his letter:

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.

The majority leader of the Senate assured me it would be taken up after completion of the Department of Defense appropriations bill, which we have completed. Given the fact that it is possible that the health care reform bill will be brought up under a truncated pressure timeline, I have little faith that real, in-depth consideration of prescription drug import legislation will come about; therefore, I have no choice but to bring this issue up today as an amendment to this appropriations bill.

In the 2008 election cycle, pharmaceutical companies gave almost $30 million in campaign contributions to Members of Congress. Just this year, according to an article published in The Hill, the prescription drug industry has given more than $1 million to Republicans and Democrats, and the companies whip up their protector in Congress each time we bring forward legislation to help Americans get the imported prescription drugs they need.

Earlier this year, I read an e-mail sent by the top lobbyist for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA--this was back in June--which stated:

The Senate is on the bill today. Unless we get some significant movement, the full blown Dorgan or Vitter bill will pass. We are trying to get Senator Dorgan to back down, calling the White House, and Senator Reid. Our understanding is that Senator McCain has said he will offer regardless. Please make sure your staff is fully engaged in this process. This is real.

That was an e-mail from a lobbyist of PhRMA, which has given millions and millions in campaign contributions.

Guess what. In the immortal words of Jack Nicholson: I'm back. I am back on the Senate floor, trying to help millions of Americans who have lost their jobs, struggling to put food on the table, by giving them the opportunity to save on their prescription drugs immediately.

Recently, the White House struck a deal with a pharmaceutical company to further protect its profits. The deal was bragged about by the head of the company's trade association, who cashed in for millions of dollars once he wrote the Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation as a Congressman. He was quoted in an article in the New York Times, published August 6, 2009, stating that the White House ``wanted a big player to come in and set the bar for everybody else.''

The same article stated:

Mr. Tauzin said the White House had tracked the negotiations throughout, assenting to decisions to move away from ideas like the government negotiation of prices or the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. The $80 billion in savings would be over a 10-year period.

Analyze that comment by the head lobbyist of one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington. He is saying the White House agreed to move away from--in other words, not support--ideas such as government negotiation of prices. Government negotiation of prices is absolutely necessary. We did it in the prescription drug bill, and it has reduced costs. In other words, the pharmaceutical companies would have to compete for Medicare contracts. One would think that is an obvious solution to bringing

down costs.

The second, of course, is the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. Here everybody is talking about reducing health care costs. We know that importation of less expensive drugs would save health care costs for the American consumer. But the White House apparently, according to Mr. Tauzin, agreed they would not support importation of less expensive drugs from Canada--a remarkable comment. You know, people wonder why the tea parties are going on, why the approval rating of Congress is so low--amazing.

The Fraser Institute found in 2008 that Canadians paid on average 53 percent less than Americans for identical brand-name drugs. Specifically, the institute found that the most commonly prescribed brand-name drug, Lipitor, is 40 percent less in Canada, Crestor is 57 percent less in Canada, and the popular arthritis drug Celebrex is 62 percent less expense in Canada. Americans would love a 60-percent-off coupon for prescription drugs and deserve such a discount now more than ever.

I have been working on this issue for many years, and I will continue to do so. Americans should not have to wait a day longer for relief from higher prices for drugs. Inexplicably, the majority leader keeps delaying consideration of this needed legislation, which has now forced me to offer an amendment on the current appropriations bill. However, I believe it is necessary to protect all Americans' interests in obtaining affordable prescription drugs. The amendment states that no funds can be

used to prosecute those who seek to import prescription drugs that have been approved by the FDA. If the big drug companies are getting an $80 billion savings, shouldn't we give a savings to American consumers? Why not now?

Again, I want to say there is going to be a point of order raised on this bill, and with righteous indignation people will say it doesn't belong on an appropriations bill. We just finished a Defense appropriations bill loaded--and I will have a list of them--with unauthorized appropriations on that bill. Every appropriations bill we take up has unauthorized appropriations, ranging from $300,000 for a museum in Nebraska to the addition of C-17s for $2.5 billion. The argument that somehow we should

not be taking up this legislation on this bill flies in the face of what has been common practice around here, even though I do not agree with it.

Let me say this, too. If I had full and complete confidence that this amendment would get a full and complete airing as an amendment on the health care bill, I would be glad to withdraw this amendment. I will be glad to withdraw this amendment if we have assurance this amendment will be taken up on the health care bill. There are all kinds of things that are going to be [Page: S10184]

done in passage of the health care reform legislation--so-called--on the floor of

the Senate.

I see my friend from North Dakota here. I have appreciated his efforts for a long time. He and I have been working on this for a long time. It is a fact that I received the word of the majority leader that this bill would be taken up and that has not happened. That has happened twice. I must say it has never happened to me before in the years I have been a Member of the Senate.

I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the New York Times article of August 6, 2009, ``White House Affirms Deal on Drug Costs.''

I also ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the letter from Senator Reid to Senator Snowe, Senator Dorgan, and to me.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

11:23 AM EDT

John S. McCain III, R-AZ

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I say to the distinguished manager, the Senator from Maryland, that I will be glad to interrupt my amendment upon the return of the Senator from Alabama, if he wishes to speak, and then I will continue after that. I thank the Senator from Maryland for her hard work and excellent explanation of the legislation before the Senate.

This amendment would lower health care costs for Americans immediately. It would provide access to safe, less expensive imported prescription drugs. For far too long, powerful lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry have stood in the way of Americans' access to affordable imported drugs. Their enormous political campaign contributions made in return for political support of their agenda and their secret unsavory deal with the White House in exchange for their support of the health care reform

have further contributed to the American people being prevented from accessing cheaper prescription drugs.

Instead, Americans continue to pay 60 percent or higher for the same prescription drugs that are sold in Canada. This amendment is necessary because Americans need access to lower cost drugs now. They need it now due to these difficult economic times. We all know about unemployment. Americans' salaries are being cut, household budgets are slim, and millions of Americans are struggling to make their [Page: S10183]

monthly mortgage payments. For these reasons, and so

many more, Americans should not be forced to wait another day to purchase safe and affordable prescription drugs from outside the United States. While Americans all over the country are having to choose between their next meal and their necessary prescriptions, the large pharmaceutical companies continue to pressure Congress to delay consideration of any legislation to allow the importation of safe and lower priced prescription drugs.

I would like to also point out this is legislation on an appropriations bill, something I have long opposed, and still oppose. But there has been an unusual process taking place, and that process is one which has forced me to come to this situation. On two separate occasions the majority leader of the Senate assured me that legislation would be taken up before the Senate, and both times he has changed his mind. The majority leader resisted consideration of an amendment to allow for the importation

of prescription drugs during debate on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

At the time, the majority leader said on the Senate floor:

This is something that should have been done, I am sorry to say, years ago, not weeks ago.

This issue is important legislation. If it should have been done years ago, then why wasn't it brought up for consideration immediately after the tobacco bill in June? While the stand-alone bill to allow importation--S. 1232--was placed on the Senate's calendar on June 11, 2009, there has been no further effort by the majority leader to call it up for consideration. Instead, he sent me a letter stating:

I committed to take up legislation that would permit the safe importation of lower-cost prescription drugs as soon as practicable.

The practicable time was back in June. There is no practical reason to prevent the majority leader from calling up this bill for a vote at any time.

I was told verbally by the majority leader as short a time as 3 weeks ago that upon the completion of consideration of the Defense appropriations bill that this legislation would be brought to the floor of the Senate. Then a week later I was told, no; that is not going to be the case. So I have been waiting for ``as soon as practicable,'' and so have millions of Americans who are looking for cheaper alternatives to the high-priced prescription drugs.

The majority leader also stated in his letter:

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.

The majority leader of the Senate assured me it would be taken up after completion of the Department of Defense appropriations bill, which we have completed. Given the fact that it is possible that the health care reform bill will be brought up under a truncated pressure timeline, I have little faith that real, in-depth consideration of prescription drug import legislation will come about; therefore, I have no choice but to bring this issue up today as an amendment to this appropriations bill.

In the 2008 election cycle, pharmaceutical companies gave almost $30 million in campaign contributions to Members of Congress. Just this year, according to an article published in The Hill, the prescription drug industry has given more than $1 million to Republicans and Democrats, and the companies whip up their protector in Congress each time we bring forward legislation to help Americans get the imported prescription drugs they need.

Earlier this year, I read an e-mail sent by the top lobbyist for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA--this was back in June--which stated:

The Senate is on the bill today. Unless we get some significant movement, the full blown Dorgan or Vitter bill will pass. We are trying to get Senator Dorgan to back down, calling the White House, and Senator Reid. Our understanding is that Senator McCain has said he will offer regardless. Please make sure your staff is fully engaged in this process. This is real.

That was an e-mail from a lobbyist of PhRMA, which has given millions and millions in campaign contributions.

Guess what. In the immortal words of Jack Nicholson: I'm back. I am back on the Senate floor, trying to help millions of Americans who have lost their jobs, struggling to put food on the table, by giving them the opportunity to save on their prescription drugs immediately.

Recently, the White House struck a deal with a pharmaceutical company to further protect its profits. The deal was bragged about by the head of the company's trade association, who cashed in for millions of dollars once he wrote the Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation as a Congressman. He was quoted in an article in the New York Times, published August 6, 2009, stating that the White House ``wanted a big player to come in and set the bar for everybody else.''

The same article stated:

Mr. Tauzin said the White House had tracked the negotiations throughout, assenting to decisions to move away from ideas like the government negotiation of prices or the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. The $80 billion in savings would be over a 10-year period.

Analyze that comment by the head lobbyist of one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington. He is saying the White House agreed to move away from--in other words, not support--ideas such as government negotiation of prices. Government negotiation of prices is absolutely necessary. We did it in the prescription drug bill, and it has reduced costs. In other words, the pharmaceutical companies would have to compete for Medicare contracts. One would think that is an obvious solution to bringing

down costs.

The second, of course, is the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. Here everybody is talking about reducing health care costs. We know that importation of less expensive drugs would save health care costs for the American consumer. But the White House apparently, according to Mr. Tauzin, agreed they would not support importation of less expensive drugs from Canada--a remarkable comment. You know, people wonder why the tea parties are going on, why the approval rating of Congress is so low--amazing.

The Fraser Institute found in 2008 that Canadians paid on average 53 percent less than Americans for identical brand-name drugs. Specifically, the institute found that the most commonly prescribed brand-name drug, Lipitor, is 40 percent less in Canada, Crestor is 57 percent less in Canada, and the popular arthritis drug Celebrex is 62 percent less expense in Canada. Americans would love a 60-percent-off coupon for prescription drugs and deserve such a discount now more than ever.

I have been working on this issue for many years, and I will continue to do so. Americans should not have to wait a day longer for relief from higher prices for drugs. Inexplicably, the majority leader keeps delaying consideration of this needed legislation, which has now forced me to offer an amendment on the current appropriations bill. However, I believe it is necessary to protect all Americans' interests in obtaining affordable prescription drugs. The amendment states that no funds can be

used to prosecute those who seek to import prescription drugs that have been approved by the FDA. If the big drug companies are getting an $80 billion savings, shouldn't we give a savings to American consumers? Why not now?

Again, I want to say there is going to be a point of order raised on this bill, and with righteous indignation people will say it doesn't belong on an appropriations bill. We just finished a Defense appropriations bill loaded--and I will have a list of them--with unauthorized appropriations on that bill. Every appropriations bill we take up has unauthorized appropriations, ranging from $300,000 for a museum in Nebraska to the addition of C-17s for $2.5 billion. The argument that somehow we should

not be taking up this legislation on this bill flies in the face of what has been common practice around here, even though I do not agree with it.

Let me say this, too. If I had full and complete confidence that this amendment would get a full and complete airing as an amendment on the health care bill, I would be glad to withdraw this amendment. I will be glad to withdraw this amendment if we have assurance this amendment will be taken up on the health care bill. There are all kinds of things that are going to be [Page: S10184]

done in passage of the health care reform legislation--so-called--on the floor of

the Senate.

I see my friend from North Dakota here. I have appreciated his efforts for a long time. He and I have been working on this for a long time. It is a fact that I received the word of the majority leader that this bill would be taken up and that has not happened. That has happened twice. I must say it has never happened to me before in the years I have been a Member of the Senate.

I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the New York Times article of August 6, 2009, ``White House Affirms Deal on Drug Costs.''

I also ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the letter from Senator Reid to Senator Snowe, Senator Dorgan, and to me.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

11:23 AM EDT

John S. McCain III, R-AZ

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I wish to say again that we have been told time after time that this legislation would come before the Senate. It has not. I do not know what process the majority leader will use--reconciliation, fill up the tree, vote on cloture, make this amendment nongermane. I have no confidence. If I had the confidence that this amendment would be taken up in a regular order fashion and that the full Senate would vote on it on the health reform bill, I would have some

confidence we could get it done. In the absence of that, I will seek a vote on this amendment.

If there is a budget point of order on this amendment, let no one be fooled: It is not because they do not want to violate the budget rules of the Senate, because they violated them in every possible way in previous appropriations bills, to the tune of billions of dollars.

I yield the floor.

11:26 AM EDT

Byron L. Dorgan, D-ND

Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, let me spend a few moments talking about this issue of reimportation of prescription drugs and the history of it and the work many of us have done together, a large group of Members of the Senate, including Senator McCain, working on this issue.

Senator McCain has offered an amendment, No. 2629, which he has just finished discussing. As I understand the amendment, it would prohibit the use of funds appropriated under the act for preventing individuals, wholesalers, or pharmacists from importing certain prescription drugs. That is in the title. It does have, as I think Senator McCain suggested, perhaps a point of order against it. I do not know whether it is because it would be legislating on an appropriations bill.

In any event, whatever the circumstances with this amendment, I was a bit surprised to see this amendment on this bill, but everybody has a right to offer amendments.

Let me say that Senator McCain is a part of a group of us who have worked together. We have worked on a piece of legislation called the Dorgan-Snowe legislation. Senator Snowe, as the major cosponsor, and many others, including Senator McCain as a cosponsor, have worked on this issue for a long time. The fact is, the appropriate place to address this, in my judgment, is in the health care bill that is going to come to the floor in the next couple of weeks. I have said

previously that I fully intend to offer this bipartisan bill as an amendment. We have over 30 cosponsors in the Senate, Republicans and Democrats. It ranges from the late Senator Ted Kennedy, to John McCain and a wide range of Senators on both sides of the political aisle. That has been the support for legislation that I think addresses a very important issue.

Let me describe the issue, if I might. I have in my desk in the Senate two bottles that contain medicine. Actually, these are empty bottles. This is Lipitor. The medicine that would be contained in these bottles is made in Ireland by a company that produces Lipitor. It is the most popular cholesterol-lowering drug in America by far. It is made in Ireland, in a plant that is inspected by the FDA, and the medicine is then sent all around the world. These two bottles, as you can see, are identical.

These two bottles contained identical tablets, 20 milligrams of Lipitor made in the same place, so it is the same manufacturing, the same pill, put in the same bottle, made by the same company. The difference? One is shipped to Canada, one is shipped to the United States. Difference? Price. Here is the one that was shipped to Canada; this is $1.83 per tablet. This was sent to the United States, $4.48 per tablet. The only

difference is price. Why is that the case? Because the American people are charged the highest prices for brand-name prescription drugs in the world, the highest prices in the world for brand-name drugs. In this case, we paid $4.48 per tablet; someone else paid $1.83. It doesn't matter whether it is Canada. It could be England, Italy, France, Germany, Spain--we pay the highest prices in the world, and it is unfair.

The question is not, Is there a problem? Of course there is a problem. We have a whole lot of folks in this country who cannot figure out how they are going to afford to pay for their groceries and their medicine, so they go get their medicine first at the pharmacy in the grocery store and figure out how much they can eat later. Of course this is a problem.

I have described the guy who sat on a straw bale once at a farm a while back, 80 years old, who told me in a little meeting we had in a farmyard: My wife has fought breast cancer for 3 years. She is in her seventies.

And we have spent all of those 3 years driving to Canada to try to buy Tamoxifen where it is sold for 80 percent less--an 80 percent lower price in Canada for the identical prescription drug. So my wife and I are trying to drive up and get Tamoxifen in Canada.

The reason they can do that is, apparently at the border, a small amount of personal use, up to 30 days or 60 or 90 days personal use of prescription drugs will be allowed to be brought over without a hassle.

But the question is what about the rest of the American people who cannot drive to the border or go to another country and access the same prescription drugs, same pill put in the same bottle by the same company who decided to charge the American people the highest prices in the world? What about those people?

My point is this: We are going to have a big health care bill on the floor of the Senate sometime in the next few weeks. Oh, it has been through this committee and that committee. It has been on a long, tortured trail. Lord knows every single day in the press we read the next little news item about who said what about this.

One way or another we are going to have some kind of health care reform on the floor of the Senate. Will it pass? Will it be omnibus? Will it be comprehensive? I do not know any of those things. I do know this: that the Gang of 6 and the gang in the Finance Committee or the gang in the HELP Committee are going to become a Gang of 100 or 100 gangs of 1 when it gets to the floor of the Senate. Everybody is going to have their amendments because most Members of the Senate have not had an opportunity

to weigh in on health care at this point with their own views and their own amendments. They are not on the committee, not part of a small gang. Let me say, on behalf of myself and I think Senator Snowe, it is the Snowe-Dorgan legislation with respect to prescription

drug reimportation, which includes Senator McCain as a cosponsor, that when health care comes to the floor of this Senate, you can count on it, that there is going to be an amendment and there is going to be a vote on the issue of the prices of prescription drugs.

Perhaps there are some people who do not want it. I understand they do not want to have a vote on it. But in my judgment, there cannot be credible efforts to address health care if you do not address the issue of health care costs, the relentless rising cost of health care.

Part of that, not an insignificant part, relates to the question of the relentless runup of prescription drug costs every single year. Take a look at the increased prices for prescription drugs every year and then think about the people out there who are trying to figure out: How do I pay for this?

I understand senior citizens have the opportunity, under Part D of Medicare, to have some drug coverage. I understand there is a problem with that, there is what is called a doughnut hole in the Washington lexicon. I also understand that someone made a deal with the pharmaceutical industry for $80 billion over 10 years, which is a relatively small part of their gross revenues, in order to fill part of the doughnut hole with 50 percent off on brand-name drugs.

I understand all that. I was not a part of it, nor was anybody I know of in this Chamber. The question is, What about all the rest of the American people and the fact that they are now charged the highest prices in the world for brand-name prescription drugs? Is it fair? I say no. [Page: S10186]

We will offer an amendment. My colleague says he was promised and he was concerned about that. I understand all that. All I am saying is, we are going to have this debate, this amendment, and this vote. It is going to be on health care. That is where it ought to be. It ought to be on the health care bill.

I know that when we have this discussion, we are going to have people say: If you do not allow the prescription drug folks, the pharmaceutical industry, to charge these prices in our country, they will do less research into finding cures for these deadly diseases.

You know what, the fact is they spend more money on promotion, marketing, and advertising than they do on research. That is a fact. I mean you get up in the morning and turn the television set on, perhaps while you are brushing your teeth or something, and then listen to the ads. The ads push at you every single day: Go ask your doctor today. It is Wednesday. Ask your doctor, is the purple pill right for you?

I do not know what the purple pill is, but it makes you feel like you should go ask somebody if I should be taking the purple pill.

Go ask your doctor whether you might need Flomax. Go ask your doctor what you ought to be getting, what you ought to be taking that you now do not know about or are not taking.

All these things are pushed at consumers in circumstances where the only person who can prescribe that prescription drug is a doctor who has decided you need it for your health. Yet every single day, relentlessly across this country on television, in the journals and newspapers and publications it says: Go check with your doctor. Ask your doctor if you should be taking this medicine.

What about cutting back on some of that and reducing the price of prescription drugs? What about that? Let me make one other point, if I might. My colleague indicated he has offered this, which is a funding limitation on prescription drugs. The fact is, this has been a long and difficult trail to pass legislation.

I understand. Were I working for the pharmaceutical industry, I would understand why you want to retain this little piece in Federal law that says: The only entity that can reimport or import drugs into this country is the company that manufacturers them. I understand why they want that to be the case. Because it allows them to price, in this country, however they want to price.

But we are told constantly this is a new economy, a global economy. If it is a global economy, then what about allowing the American people the freedom to access that global economy to find the identical FDA-approved prescription drug where it is sold for half the price?

They say: Yes, but you know what, if we do that, we are going to open it up to counterfeit drugs and so on. Guess what. Europe has been doing this for 20 years. It is something called parallel trading. In Europe, if you are in Germany and want to buy a prescription drug from France, if you are in Spain and want to buy a prescription drug from England, that is not a problem. They have a plan that is called parallel trading. It has been going on for 20 years, and there are no counterfeit issues

of any significance at all.

Europe can do it and we cannot? We cannot keep track of this? The legislation that I and Senator Snowe and many others, including Senator McCain, have put together carefully has all kinds of safety measures that will dramatically improve the safety of the prescription drugs that are now sold.

It requires pedigrees be established on batch lots so you can track everything back. Everything. The only proposal we are suggesting the American people be given the freedom to do is to access that FDA-approved drug--yes, only FDA-approved drugs--only from countries in which the chain of custody is identical to ours and as safe as ours is. That is all we are talking about.

But that does it the right way. That says: Here is a plan. It funds the FDA to make certain that the drug supplies are safe and so on. This is the right way to do this. That is why we have taken a long time to put this together. It is a piece of legislation that has all the elements you would want to have that gives the American people the freedom to get lower priced drugs, FDA-approved drugs where they are sold and, at the same time, because they would have that freedom, would put downward pressure

on drug prices in this country because the pharmaceutical industry would be required to reprice their drugs in the United States.

Let me say, as I always have to say, I do not have a grief against the pharmaceutical industry. I think it is a great industry. I think it produces wonderful, miracle prescription drugs that if taken can keep you out of an acute care hospital bed, which would be

far more expensive. Prescription drugs, if taken, in many cases, can manage a disease that otherwise would have you in a debilitated condition.

I appreciate the research they do. I appreciate the new drugs they develop. Let me say this, that a substantial amount of work, with respect to the development of new drugs, is done with public funding, taxpayer dollars, through the National Institutes of Health, the knowledge from which then goes to the pharmaceutical industry to be able to use to create these drugs. That is a part of it.

Another part of it is the research they do themselves. Good for you, I say. My grief is not against an industry. I do not want to tarnish this industry. All I want to say is: We deserve fair prices. This country and the consumers in this country deserve fair prices.

We have been trying for 10 years to get this done. If we bring health care reform to the floor of the Senate and say: We are going to do something about health care costs and prices and fail to do something about prescription drug costs, in which the American people are required to pay the highest prices for brand-name drugs, then, in my judgment, we will have failed miserably.

It is my full intention that when we have health care on the floor, which I expect to be within a week or 2 weeks or whenever it comes, but it is coming for sure, I will be here, and I will fully expect and demand the opportunity to offer this amendment because there are 30 Members of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike, who have done the work to put together the bill that has all the safeguards and, finally, at long last, will give the American people what they deserve; that is, fair

pricing on prescription drugs.

11:40 AM EDT

John S. McCain III, R-AZ

Mr. McCAIN. I am very grateful for the leadership Senator Dorgan has shown on this issue for many years and it has been a pleasure and an honor to work with him on that and many other issues.

I ask my colleague, does the letter that was sent by the majority leader to you and to me and to the Senator from Maine, Ms. Snowe--I know you have read it--does it concern you that the last paragraph of the letter says:

Not withstanding these obstacles, I stand by my earlier commitment to make sure the Senate considers S. 1232 as soon as practicable.

And then this is the question I have for the Senator from North Dakota.

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.

My question to the Senator from North Dakota is: Why would there be any question in the majority leader's mind that you or I and Senator Snowe would let a health reform bill go to the floor and be voted on without it being passed? It seems to me, and may I say, because I have been told twice by the majority leader we would take it up--and those commitments have been reversed--would it not concern you a little bit when it says: `` ..... if this issue is not addressed during the full Senate's

consideration of comprehensive health reform .....''

That is my question. That is what I am concerned about, that parliamentary procedures would be used. You and I have seen it before. The tree filled up. Cloture invoked, et cetera, where there have not been amendments that were clearly important to that legislation, not allowed to be considered. [Page: S10187]

That is my question to my friend from North Dakota.

11:42 AM EDT

Byron L. Dorgan, D-ND

Mr. DORGAN. Let me say to Senator McCain that I expect the job of majority leader is a pretty tough job. I have watched from Bob Dole on, Tom Daschle, and so many majority leaders and minority leaders try to run this place. It is pretty hard to run. Trying to figure out a schedule is pretty difficult. So I respect the difficulties of juggling all these things.

With respect to the specific letter Senator McCain referred to, Senator McCain, I, and Senator Snowe all talked to the majority leader about this issue when the tobacco bill was on the floor of the Senate because we were fully intending to offer our prescription drug reimportation bill.

The majority leader did say to us, and then put it in writing, did say to us: I will guarantee you that you will get that up on the floor of the Senate. So that was a commitment by the majority leader. And he understands that commitment.

When I saw the letter he wrote, I went to him immediately, and he and I talked about that. Because I indicated to the majority leader: You have indicated that as soon as practicable, or perhaps at the end of the year.

I said to the majority leader: You should understand that if it is not up before health care, it has to be offered on health care. Because that is exactly where it fits. Nobody can come to the floor and say: We have to do health care. We have to try and control costs and put some downward pressure on prices. But, by the way, you cannot offer a piece of legislation that would put downward pressure on prescription drug prices. I said: That cannot be the case.

He understood and said: I understand that. That is going to be at the front end of this debate on health care. Based on that representation, I feel confident, I would say to Senator McCain, I understand the confusion in the reading of the letter, the writing of the letter, but I feel confident, having talked to Senator Reid, that we are going to have ample opportunity, right at the front end of this debate about health care, to have a full debate, to have a vote up or down,

which is what we need to do, obviously. I think everyone in this Chamber, every Republican, every Democrat, needs to be on record: How do they feel about their consumers paying the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world? How do they feel about a bill we put together that has pedigrees and batch lots, all the safety so our consumers can have the freedom to access these lower priced drugs?

I think we can do that.

11:45 AM EDT

John S. McCain III, R-AZ

Mr. McCAIN. Would you not feel better if the letter said--I know I would feel better if the letter said: I expect this issue to be brought up in the health reform bill.

Instead, there is a loophole, with all due respect, that if it isn't addressed during the full Senate's consideration, ``I guarantee I will move to it before the end of the year.'' Each day going by, seniors and, in fact, all citizens are paying a higher price for prescription drugs. Frankly, we should never have made that agreement when the tobacco bill was taken up because we could have passed it. Today seniors could be paying as much as 60 percent less for their prescription drugs. But we

know what happened. The pharmaceutical companies weighed in with all of their clout. I urge the Senator from North Dakota to go back and get this language changed. The majority leader looked me in the eye and said: We will take this up after we finish the Department

of Defense appropriations bill. And then decided not to do it. Maybe the Senator from North Dakota understands why I am skeptical about the interpretation of a letter that could be interpreted so that we don't take it up in the health care reform bill.

11:46 AM EDT

Byron L. Dorgan, D-ND

Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, I understand the anxious state of all of us to do what we have worked on for so long. I understand. I also understand that the letter probably could have been more artfully drawn. I understand from my conversations with Senator Reid, the majority leader, that he fully understands and expects us to be planted on the floor when health care comes here and to offer our amendment and have a full debate and vote. If there is an attempt when we debate health care

to decide that 30 of us Republicans and Democrats somehow don't have the opportunity we have been promised on the issue of prescription drug prices, in my judgment they are going to have an awful time getting any health care bill through this place. Because you can't say to me or to anybody else: We will do the bill we want to do and, by the way, prescription drug prices that are going up by double digits, we are not going to give you a shot at that.

Let me make one final representation. I said when I started, it is hard to schedule this place. I understand that. The Senator from Arizona knows we have had noncontroversial bills where we couldn't even get past a motion to proceed without having a filibuster to something that is noncontroversial. If I am majority leader, I am thinking this is not easy to do. I am sympathetic to the job he has to try to do all these things. I am convinced Senator Reid will keep the commitment he made

to us. I am convinced that commitment will be kept when we get health care on the floor. I don't want it to be in the middle or toward the end. I want to be here front and center at the front end because the bill we have put together is a strong bill dealing with a very important issue.

11:48 AM EDT

John S. McCain III, R-AZ

Mr. McCAIN. I have great sympathy for attempting to schedule legislation in this body. I think our friend Trent Lott maybe didn't invent it, but he used to say that it is like herding cats, conducting business in the Senate. I agree with that.

I know the Senator from North Dakota is aware that no matter what the problems are, if the majority leader says: I will take up this bill, then you have to take his word. My question to the Senator from North Dakota is, can we get a commitment from the majority leader that parliamentary procedures will not be used to block consideration of the issue of importation of pharmaceutical drugs?

11:49 AM EDT

Byron L. Dorgan, D-ND

Mr. DORGAN. I understand that. That is why I said I think the letter perhaps is not artfully drafted with respect to that last paragraph. I believe that commitment has been made to me because I went to the majority leader following the release of that letter. I have found over a long period that when the majority leader gives me a commitment, I believe he will keep the commitment.

11:50 AM EDT

Byron L. Dorgan, D-ND

Mr. DORGAN. I understand, but I believe the Senator will have that experience when health care comes to the floor and he and I are on the floor with our colleague Senator Snowe and others pushing for a solid piece of legislation that has broad bipartisan support. The Senator then will understand the commitment was made and the commitment was kept. I believe that will be the case.

11:50 AM EDT

John S. McCain III, R-AZ

Mr. McCAIN. All I can say to my friend is, if we can get a commitment that parliamentary procedures will not be used to block consideration of an amendment concerning importation of prescription drugs, I will withdraw this amendment from this bill.

11:50 AM EDT

Byron L. Dorgan, D-ND

Mr. DORGAN. I believe that commitment has been made to me. In any event, we are here on the floor on a Wednesday talking about something I believe is very important, and we have worked on this for a long time. We have spent a lot of time working on it. I don't intend to decide: OK, somebody is going to put up some barriers and that is OK with me. That is all right. And I don't think Senator Reid is going to do that. He has made a commitment to me that will not be the case. I am convinced

that Senator McCain and I and others who have put this legislation together will have our day, and everybody else will have to stand up and say yes or no. I hope when the roll is called, we have sufficient numbers, finally, at long last, to pass legislation that should have been passed 8 years ago. Again, I appreciate the comments Senator McCain has made this morning. I will have further visits with him.

I know Senator Mikulski has a bill on the floor she wishes to manage, and we don't want to be in the way of that. [Page: S10188]

My view is that we are going to have our bill on this floor with a full debate and an up-or-down vote, and that will come as a result of Senator Reid keeping his commitment. I am convinced of that.

I yield the floor.

11:52 AM EDT

John S. McCain III, R-AZ

Mr. McCAIN. Very briefly, I say to Senator Dorgan, I appreciate his efforts, his leadership. I appreciate everything he has done. We have had the privilege of working together on many issues over the years. I wish to be sure that when the health reform bill comes up, there will not be parliamentary obstacles from that happening. I have seen the will of the majority thwarted on the floor of the Senate by certain parliamentary maneuvers--filling up the tree, for example. The Senator

from North Dakota is as familiar as I am with some parliamentary procedures which can be employed by the majority and have been employed when both parties have been in the majority to thwart the ability of Senators to have their issues considered. That is what I want to see, is to make sure that when the health reform bill is before us, we will take it up.

But the sentence reads:

If this issue is not addressed during the full Senate's consideration of comprehensive reform .....

My question is, why wouldn't it? Why is that sentence necessary? All I can say is that I hope we can get that assurance. If we do, I will withdraw the amendment and allow this appropriations bill to receive full consideration and be passed by the Senate.

11:53 AM EDT

Byron L. Dorgan, D-ND

Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, I intend to offer several amendments to the health care bill. I have not had a chance. I am not part of a gang of anything. I wasn't part of the Gang of 6. I am not part of the Finance or HELP Committees. This is my first opportunity. I have some things I think can improve it. If a bill comes to the floor with procedures--and it will not happen--that lock this up and we can't offer amendments, I wouldn't stand for that. I am not going to be a part of that process. My

expectation and the representation made to me with respect to this amendment is when that bill comes to the floor, we will have an opportunity to offer amendments. I don't know how you would get health care through the Senate if the proposition would be that somebody says: The

Gang of 6, they had their 6 months or 3 months, whatever they did. And the two committees had their opportunity. But the rest of you, sorry, can't do that. In that circumstance, health care would not be passed through the Senate. Perhaps we have tortured this subject to death.

11:54 AM EDT

John S. McCain III, R-AZ

Mr. McCAIN. We have probably tortured it to death. Considering the fact that reconciliation continues to be held out there as an option by the majority is also a factor about which I have been concerned. All we need is a clarification to make sure there will be no parliamentary obstacles to consideration of the amendment of the Senator from North Dakota, an effort joined by me and Senator Snowe and others, to allow prescription drugs to be imported into the United States.

I yield the floor.