Bush Signs Appropriations Bill Containing Reimportation Provision
President Bush on Tuesday signed the appropriations bill (HR 2862) for the Commerce, Justice and State departments, which contains a provision regarding the purchase of lower-cost drugs from other nations, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. The provision, which was sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.), would bar the U.S. Trade Representative from creating trade agreements that prevent prescription drug reimportation for one year.
Bush said he is considering the provision an "advisory," which leaves "open the question of whether it will be enforced and how," the AP/Sun reports. White House spokesperson Trent Duffy said Bush is "reserving the right to object" to the provision. He added, "Essentially, it means that the legislative branch has the ability to suggest things, but there are powers reserved by the constitution for the executive branch," to which the trade representative belongs.
The office of current U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman opposes the measure, saying that blocking the ability to create such trade agreements would infringe on the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies.
Terry Carmack, Northup chief of staff, said, "I suspect there will be many, many discussions with lawyers and committee staff to figure what the next step might be" (AP/Baltimore Sun, 11/25).