Blackburn defends her role in passage of opioid law

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a key player in the passage of a federal law that critics say has made it more difficult to restrain the deadly opioid epidemic, says she has seen no evidence to back up the contentions and that it’s “absolutely absurd” to link political contributions to her support for the questioned law, reports Michael Collins for USA Today.

Blackburn, who is running next year for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Bob Corker, said Thursday her involvement in the law grew out of a sincere effort to make sure that people who have a legitimate need for prescription drugs are able to get them while at the same time cracking down on illicit opioid use.

… A joint investigation published two weeks ago by “60 Minutes” and The Washington Post asserted that the new language robbed the DEA of an important tool that helped keep addictive painkillers out of the hands of those who sell and use them illegally. (Previous post HERE.)

Blackburn, however, said it is impossible to know the law’s true impact because the DEA hasn’t submitted a report to Congress on that subject. The report, which is mandated under the law, was due last April.

“We cannot say that was the result because they will not give us the report,” Blackburn said.

Regardless, if the accusations in the 60 Minutes/Washington Post investigation are backed up by data from the DEA, Blackburn said she would help lead the effort to revise the law.…Blackburn co-sponsored the legislation and at one point even led the debate on the House floor. Her role is under scrutiny because she was pushing the bill at the same time that opioid abuse was sharply on the rise in Tennessee.

… A USA TODAY review of campaign finance reports shows that, since 2012, she has collected at least $96,000 in campaign contributions from political-action committees affiliated with the largest manufacturers and distributors of opioids and from groups representing drug makers and distributors.

Blackburn bristles at the suggestion that those donations fueled her interest in the law.

“You know what, that is absolutely absurd,” she said.

… Responding to the allegations that the law impeded efforts to stop illicit drug use, Blackburn points to government figures showing the number of narcotics shipments halted by federal investigators already was on the decline years before the law took effect. Immediate suspension orders of drug shipments plummeted from 65 in 2011 to five in 2015, and then rose slightly to eight in 2016, according to data the DEA provided to a congressional committee.

“They are saying this (law) caused the problem,” she said. But based on the DEA’s own data, “it is not appropriate to say that what we did” was to blame, she said.

12 Responses to Blackburn defends her role in passage of opioid law

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.