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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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Intimate Lawmaking Frist Style

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Vaccine-makers, Senator Bill Frist and The White House shared an unusual intimacy. I wouldn’t care if it involved late night parties. This intimacy, however, resulted in secret legislation. Truthout.org posts the story:

Vaccine industry officials helped shape legislation behind the scenes that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist secretly amended into a bill to shield them from lawsuits, according to e-mails obtained by a public advocacy group.

E-mails and documents written by a trade group for the vaccine-makers show the organization met privately with Frist’s staff and the White House about measures that would give the industry protection from lawsuits filed by people hurt by the vaccines.

The communications were made public in a report released this week by the group Public Citizen. Its study follows a February story in The Tennessean that Frist, along with House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., ordered the vaccine liability language inserted in a defense spending bill in December without debate and in violation of usual Senate practice.

The group, called the Biotechnology Industry Organization, wanted such language in the bill, the e-mails reflect.

“The intimacy of this, we think, is quite unusual,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, about the relationship between the organization’s lobbyists, Frist and the Bush administration. “We think it is an interesting case study of how the inside operation works in Washington.”