Fact Check: “Sen. Rob Portman touts anti-heroin measures, even though he voted against their funding.”

COLUMBUS, OH -- Just like the ultimate Washington insider that he is, Senator Portman isn’t telling the truth in his new ad about his record on drug abuse prevention: Portman voted against the funding for the same bill he’s touting, proposed slashing funding for drug abuse prevention by millions, and voted to cut it by millions more. 

From Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney: “Heroin and opioid abuse has devastated families across Ohio and no community has escaped its impact – which is why Senator Portman’s hypocrisy and his vote against funding to tackle this epidemic is so disappointing. Senator Portman is bragging about this drug abuse prevention bill after he voted against funding for it – and that kind of D.C. double-talk represents exactly what frustrates Ohioans about the politics of Washington. This is an issue of life or death for too many and it’s not a problem that can be tackled with empty promises. The people of Chillicothe want a Senator who will back up words with real resources when it comes to this challenge, which is why I and so many in our community are proud to support Ted Strickland.”

Here’s what they’re saying about Portman’s drug abuse prevention bill:

  • Fortune Headline: “Congress Finally Passed A Major But Pointless Law To Fight Opioid Addiction.” “There’s just one problem: the bill doesn’t actually fund any of these programs. Obama has repeatedly called for $1.1 billion in funding for anti-opioid efforts, but congressional Republicans refused to include the money in the bill.”[Fortune, 7/14/16]

  • Cleveland.com: CARA “Doesn’t Actually Provide The Money.” “The bill that passed today says the government is authorized to do all of the things mentioned above and more, at a cost of $181 million a year over the next five years.  It doesn't actually provide the money.” [Cleveland.com, 7/13/16]

  • Columbus Dispatch Headline: “Portman's Drug Bill ‘Falls Far Short,’ Obama Administration Says.” “A statement from the White House said Portman's legislation ‘falls far short’ of critical needs to attack the problem, largely because it authorizes but does not appropriate money for programs.” [Columbus Dispatch, 7/14/16] 

See the facts about Portman’s record for yourself: 

  • Cleveland.com: Portman touted anti-heroin and opioid abuse bill, but voted against its funding. Cleveland.com wrote that Portman “voted against the very bill that would pay for his proposed solutions… Portman aides confirmed to Cleveland.com that money for fighting heroin addiction would come from the $1.1 trillion spending bill Congress passed in December, a measure thatPortman denounced as wasteful and likely to drive up deficits. This puts the Ohio Republican in an awkward position.”

  • Akron Beacon Journal: As Office of Management and Budget Director, Portman slashed drug abuse funding. A report from the Akron Beacon Journal revealed that as OMB Director his budget proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to substance abuse programs. [Akron Beacon Journal, 2/4/16]

  • A recently released analysis shows that Portman voted to cut important programs for addressing the crisis by more than $800 million. The calculations of the analysis come from the FY13 and FY14 Ryan budgets, both of which Portman voted for.

  • Dec. 2015: Portman Voted Against Expanding Coverage For Addiction Treatment, Increasing Resources For Substance Abuse Prevention And Treatment. [CQ, 12/3/15; S.Amdt. 2892 to S.Amdt. 2874 to H.R. 3762, Vote 317, 12/3/15]

    • The Measure Expanded Efforts To Combat Heroin And Opioid Abuse. “This morning, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor to announce an amendment that would ramp-up the federal government’s efforts to combat the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic.” [Office Of Sen. Shaheen Press Release, 12/3/15]

    • Shaheen: Amendment “Provides Over $15 Billion Of Needed Funding To States And Municipalities” Including Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grants. [Congressional Record, Senate Floor, 12/3/15]

    • The Measure Was Paid For By Ending Tax Breaks For Millionaires And Corporate Offshoring. “Senator Shaheen’s amendment is fully paid-for by enacting the Buffett Rule, preventing corporations from moving offshore to avoid paying taxes, and closing tax loopholes that allow corporations to write-off executive bonuses.” [Office Of Sen. Shaheen Press Release, 12/3/15]

  • Ohio leaders spoke out against Portman’s record of opposing funding to combat the heroin epidemic. The Chillicothe Gazette wrote, “Democrats, including Chillicothe's mayor, slammed Sen. Rob Portman's record on drug abuse funding Friday, saying his rhetoric doesn't match his congressional votes… ‘Rob Portman talks about the challenge of drug abuse and brags about his efforts, but then he votes against funding to actually help solve the problem,’ said Ohio Democratic Party Executive Director Greg Beswick.”


  • Strickland Increased Funding For The Department Of Alcohol And Drug Addiction Services By $7 Million, Or 4 Percent. Over his tenure as Governor, Strickland increased funding for the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services by 4 percent, or $7.4 million. [Ohio Legislative Service Commission, FY 08-09 Budget, 12/12/07; Ohio Legislative Service Commission, FY 10-11 Budget, 9/22/09]

  • Strickland Signed Executive Order Creating The Ohio Prescription Drug Task Force, Which Produced 20 Comprehensive Recommendations To Combat Prescription Drug Abuse. “On April 2, 2010, Governor Ted Strickland signed Executive Order 2010-4S, establishing the Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force (the ‘Task Force’). The Task Force was created to develop a coordinated and comprehensive approach to Ohio’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. The group was comprised of 33 members with a wide range of professional backgrounds and perspectives, including: state and local public health officials, health provider board and association representatives, state and local law enforcement, local government officials, state agency representatives and legislators. The Task Force was charged with meeting regularly to develop and recommend potential remedies to the growing misuse and abuse of prescription drugs in Ohio. Due to the urgency of this problem, the Task Force was required to submit an initial progress report to the Governor and the leaders of the Ohio General Assembly by May 17, 2010. The progress report included initial recommendations encouraging support for community education efforts (i.e. drug take-back programs and social marketing campaigns) and charged the Task Force Work Groups to explore and identify potential solutions for the Task Force Final Report.” [Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force Report, 10/1/10]

  • Strickland Set Aside $250,000 In Grants To Combat The Fraudulent Prescription And Sale Of Pain Medication. “Strickland said he supports legitimate pain clinics and other legal means that provide addictive medications to patients. He called on the state’s doctors and pharmacists to check the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System–a prescription tracking database–every time they prescribe or dispense pain medications. Rather, Strickland wants to target illegitimate pain clinics, professionals who fraudulently prescribe pain medication, and people who fraudulently buy and resell. He announced a $250,000 set aside of Justice Assistance Grants for law enforcement to expand or improve their efforts.” [MedCity News, 4/2/10]

  • Republican State Rep. Terry Johnson: “Strickland's [Prescription Drug] Task Force Did Some Good Work.” “He was flanked at the conference table with state Rep.-elect Dr. Terry Johnson of Scioto County and state legislators Danny Bubp and Jimmy Stewart. […] ‘If city and county health departments can close down a restaurant because it has health problems or cockroaches running the walls, it should have the power to close these pill mills. They have such a terrible effect on families and children all over Ohio, but particularly here in southern Ohio,’ Kasich said. He said he plans to use initiatives put in place by the drug task force created a year ago by outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland. Johnson agreed. ‘Strickland's task force did some good work and we will use that as a springboard to move forward,’ he said.” [Portsmouth Daily Times, 12/23/10]

  • Journalist Studying Drug Addiction Lauded Strickland’s Work On Drug Addiction As Governor. “After five years delving into the depths of the opiate epidemic, connecting it from the mouths of Mexican farm boys to the culture of overprescribing pain medication in Ohio, Sam Quinones deduced that an involved, connected, thriving community is a key ingredient to ending it. Quinones, a freelance journalist who spent a decade living in Mexico and another decade writing for the Los Angeles Times, put those five years of conversations and research into a book, ‘Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Heroin Epidemic,’ which has caught the attention of minds across the nation. Many people who work within drug addiction, from police to therapists to state officials, have been reading and recommending the book to others. […] Although there is much to be done yet in Ohio, Quinones views the state as a leader. He credits both Gov. John Kasich and former Gov. Ted Strickland, along with various public employees, including police, treatment providers and coroners, for the positive direction. He's most critical of drug manufacturers.” [Chillicothe Gazette, 10/15/15]


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