Blackburn cites ‘unintended consequences’ of opioid law
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee, on Monday called for immediately addressing any “unintended consequences” of a federal law she co-sponsored that dialed back federal power to stop companies from distributing opioids.
The Washington Post and CBS’ “60 Minutes” reported Sunday that the pharmaceutical industry-friendly law passed last year undermined the Drug Enforcement Administration’s efforts to restrict the flow of pain pills that have led to tens of thousands of deaths.
“If there are unintended consequences from this bipartisan legislation — which was passed unanimously by the House, Senate and was signed into law by President Obama — they should be addressed immediately,” Blackburn’s congressional office said in a statement.
Former Rep. Stephen Fincher, who is also considering a Republican Senate bid, said the opioid epidemic is a top issue to Tennesseans.
“This is why we’re so interested in running for this seat to make sure that Tennesseans have a voice against special interests and what’s going on in Washington,” Fincher told the Chattanooga Time Free Press.
Asked specifically about Blackburn’s role in passing the law, Fincher said: “This is not good for Tennesseans and this epidemic is facing all of us and breaking our little counties, people are dying.”
“Career politics and forgetting who you work for — that’s what’s wrong in Washington. People’s lives are at stake here,” he said.
The Blackburn campaign noted that the bill passed before Fincher left Congress, and that he did not vote against the measure when he had the opportunity. A Fincher spokesman said the congressman was absent the day the bill came up a vote in 2015 because he was back home in West Tennessee taking care of the family farm because of his brother’s illness.
The Washington Post reported that when Joe Rannazzisi, then the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, spoke out against the pending legislation in 2014, Blackburn accused him of trying to “intimidate the United States Congress” and asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate. He retired the following year.
Blackburn has received more than $550,000 in contributions from members of the pharmaceutical and health products industry since the 2010 cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com