Trump's Exaggerated Claims on Biden and Pharma in Puerto Rico - FactCheck.org

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At a rally in Sanford, Florida, President Trump made the exaggerated claim that his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, "voted to obliterate" Puerto Rico's pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.
At a rally in Sanford, Florida, President Donald Trump made the exaggerated claim that his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, "voted to obliterate" Puerto Rico's pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.

And during a health care speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump falsely made it sound as if Biden had done this all on his own when he promised to "reverse the disastrous and heartless decision Joe Biden made in 1996 to shut down the pharmaceutical industry in Puerto Rico."

In 1996, Biden, then a senator, joined all of the Senate Democrats voting and a majority of its Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time, in voting for a wide-ranging bill focused largely on small businesses.

It is true that the legislation, which originated in the Republican-controlled House, phased out a tax exemption for companies manufacturing products in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories. Loss of the exemption did impel many pharmaceutical companies to move their operations off of the island, often to foreign nations, costing Puerto Rico many jobs and harming its economy.

But the allegation lacks context. At the time, eliminating the provision was seen as striking a blow against "corporate welfare." And among other things, the legislation also raised the minimum wage. The final Senate vote on the bill, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, was 76-22.

A Senate Finance Committee report issued in 2016 found that the loss of the exemption was not nearly as calamitous for Puerto Rico as some have concluded. Also, while the island's drug manufacturing was harmed by the bill, it was not entirely "shut down" or "obliterated," as we will show later.

Trump has blamed Biden for decimating Puerto Rico's pharmaceutical industry at least six times, most recently in a Florida campaign rally.

Trump, Oct. 12: In 1996, Joe Biden voted to obliterate Puerto Rico's thriving pharmaceutical industry. Remember, they used to have a great pharmaceutical industry. He cut it out and…
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