Cummings Asks Gowdy to Seek White House Briefing on Opioids
Cummings Asks Gowdy to Seek
White House Briefing on Opioids
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 16, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter asking Chairman Trey Gowdy to obtain a briefing from the White House on the status of the Trump Administration’s efforts to implement the recommendations of the President’s Opioid Commission.
“I strongly believe that the Commission’s recommendations have the best chance of being fully implemented if the White House works with federal agencies and Congress to organize a bipartisan effort that transcends traditional jurisdictional boundaries and recognizes the gravity of the crisis we face,” Cummings wrote. “Our Committee is ideally positioned to take on this role, and individuals at the White House are ideally positioned to update us on their progress.”
Until recently, the Oversight Committee worked in a bipartisan manner on the opioid crisis. Gowdy agreed to Cummings’ request for a bipartisan field hearing on November 28, 2017, where Governor Chris Christie—who led the Commission—testified about their more than 60 bipartisan recommendations.
As a next step, Cummings proposed a bipartisan meeting with the White House to follow-up on these recommendations, but Gowdy refused. President Trump has designated Kellyanne Conway as his point person on this issue. Instead, Gowdy sent his own letter seeking a briefing with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), without consulting Cummings or asking him to join.
Although Cummings had no objection to hearing from ONDCP, he pointed out in his letter today that “President Trump and his top advisors have been trying to decimate ONDCP since the first days of his Administration,” including by proposing to slash its budget by 95% and transfer its two biggest grant programs to other agencies. He also noted a troubling lack of interaction between the Acting ONDCP Director and White House officials, as well as a dearth of senior leadership that is negatively affecting ONDCP’s ability to carry out its mission.
“At this point, it seems obvious that the White House is the locus of decision-making on opioid policy—not ONDCP,” Cummings wrote. “If our Committee really wants to make a difference, we should work with the White House to fulfill all of the Commission’s recommendations, which Governor Christie implored us to do.”
Click here to read today’s letter.