Opioid Commission Member: We Worry Trump Won’t Act To Address Drug Crisis

Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., sits with Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., before a House Democratic caucus meeting at the Capitol Visitor Center, March 20, 2010. (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

A member of President Donald Trump’s opioid commission said in an interview published Monday that the panel is not optimistic that its recommendations will lead to any action to address the nationwide crisis.

Former Democratic Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a member of Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, told the Washington Post that “the worry is that” the commission’s final report of recommendations to combat the crisis, due for release Nov. 1, “won’t be adopted.”

Kennedy said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who is the commission’s chair, told him that the success of Trump’s presidency could depend on the President’s response to the opioid crisis.

“Christie doesn’t mince words,” Kennedy told the Washington Post. “He said, ‘If he doesn’t recognize this as the issue of our time, his presidency is over.’”

Trump in August said he would declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, and last week said he would take that “very important step” sometime “in the next week.”

Politico reported that White House officials were blindsided by his announcement. No emergency declaration has yet been forthcoming.

Trump’s administration faces a number of setbacks when it comes to taking any action to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services remains leaderless after Tom Price resigned as secretary in September amid questions about his use of private aircraft.

The Drug Enforcement Administration remains leaderless after Chuck Rosenberg stepped down as acting head in September after criticizing Trump’s remarks Rosenberg said “condoned police misconduct.”

And Trump’s pick to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), withdrew his name from consideration in October after the Washington Post and CBS News reported that Marino pushed legislation making it harder for the DEA to freeze shipments of opioids from companies with suspicious sales.

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