January 29, 2016

IT’S AS IF IT’S ALL JUST CHEESY PARTISAN POLITICS: Lawmakers Who’ve Led on Heroin Epidemic Get Hit on It Anyway.

The mood in the Senate hearing room Wednesday morning was somber as lawmakers pledged bipartisan support to combat the scourge of heroin and prescription drug addiction. But with two of the Senate’s most vulnerable Republicans testifying, the hearing offered the opportunity to demonstrate some passion for an issue voters care about intensely. It also gave Democratic opponents a chance to criticize them.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has been working for years to combat the drug crisis as his state has been one of the hardest-hit. At the Judiciary hearing, he urged his colleagues to support his legislation to combat the epidemic. “I truly believe it can make a difference in the lives of the people I represent,” he said.

While the hearing was still going on, the Ohio Democratic Party sent out a press release accusing Portman of “D.C. double speak,” on the issue, noting he voted against the year-end spending package that included additional funds for drug programs.

“Not only has Rob Portman voted to slash funding for substance abuse programs, he tried to take credit for drug abuse treatment programs that he actually voted against,” Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Daniel van Hoogstraten said.

“I think it’s really sad. Really sad,” Portman said of that statement. “This has been totally bipartisan from the start. I’ve been working on this issue for over two decades, and I’ve never been attacked politically on it. It’s kind of absurd.”

In Wednesday a conference call, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who testified at the hearing and is also facing a tough re-election bid, said, “We rose above politics today, and we’re going to continue to when it comes to addressing this opiate crisis.”

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party also used the hearing as an opportunity to take a swing at GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, who didn’t testify with the other senators. Democrats asserted that Toomey, who is facing re-election “may portray himself as sympathetic to this issue when he’s up for re-election, [but] his record tells a different story.”

Toomey’s campaign spokesman Steve Kelly pointed out that Democrats have praised Toomey’s work on this issue. “Toomey has repeatedly stated that the scourge of opioid abuse should not be a partisan issue,” Kelly said, “so it’s disappointing that the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is attempting to politicize such an important public health crisis.”

It’s the same way on race, criminal justice reform, etc.

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