Strickland, Mayor Feeney: Portman’s D.C. Double-Talk On Drug Abuse Prevention

Today, Ted Strickland and Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney issued the following statements on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). Cleveland.com previously highlighted how Senator Portman voted against funding for CARA, writing “Sen. Rob Portman touts anti-heroin measures, even though he voted against their funding.”

STATEMENT FROM TED STRICKLAND:

“As I travel around Ohio, I hear the same plea from small town and big city mayors, county coroners, teachers and law enforcement: our communities are crying out for real resources to tackle the epidemic of opioid and heroin abuse. That’s why Senator Portman’s record on this issue is so disappointing: he’s bragging about a drug abuse prevention bill that he actually voted against funding, and the bill he’s touting today means that Ohio will get zero new dollars to fight this scourge. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Senator Portman has displayed this kind of frustrating hypocrisy on this critical issue -- as President Bush’s Budget Director Portman slashed millions from drug abuse prevention efforts and in Congress he voted to cut millions more. As governor, I tackled this scourge through prevention, treatment and enforcement, and here’s the difference between myself and Senator Portman when it comes to fighting the epidemic of drug abuse: I’ll have the courage to back up my words with my votes, I’ll support real funding to attack this epidemic, and I’ll never try to mislead the people of Ohio about an issue of life or death like drug abuse.”

STATEMENT 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.”

PORTMAN’S RECORD ON DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION: SLASHING FUNDING AND D.C. DOUBLE-TALK

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.”

Cleveland.com headline: Sen. Rob Portman touts anti-heroin measures, even though he voted against their funding. [Cleveland.com, 1/27/2016]

Cleveland.com: Portman’s Hypocrisy On Drug Abuse Prevention Ishow Washington ticks off the rest of America.”  

In 2015 Portman voted against Supplemental Funding For Addiction Treatment In Order To Protect Tax Breaks For Millionaires:

  • 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]

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.

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.

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’S RECORD ON DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION: TACKLING THIS SCOURGE THROUGH PREVENTION, ENFORCEMENT AND TREATMENT

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]

Athens Messenger: 2011 Increase In Drug Abuse Funding “Followed” Completion Of Strickland’s Prescription Drug Task Force. “Nearly $4.5 million will be distributed to Ohio counties, with an additional $547,860 to be distributed to the top 20 counties with the highest rates of unintentional prescription drug deaths - including Hocking, Athens and Vinton Counties. Availability of the $5 million is the result of increased federal reimbursement for Medicaid. The funding allocation follows the completion of work by the Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, which was assembled by former Gov. Ted Strickland in April. The task force issued its report and recommendations to the governor and Legislature on Oct. 1.” [Athens Messenger, 1/15/11]

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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