Double-Talk Rob: Ohioans Can’t Trust Portman On Drug Abuse Prevention

ODP: It Shouldn’t Take An Election Year For Portman To Support Anti-Drug Abuse Funding

COLUMBUS — In another example of the kind of D.C. double-talk that Ohioans hate about Washington, today Sen. Rob Portman abruptly reversed his position on drug abuse prevention funding — but nothing will change Portman’s long and clear record of prioritizing the Washington power brokers and wealthy special interests he serves at the expense of Ohio families struggling with drug addiction.

In fact, a new analysis released yesterday shows that Portman voted to cut important programs for addressing the crisis by more than $800 million. The calculations come from the FY13 and FY14 Ryan budgets, both of which Portman voted for.

“This is exactly what frustrates hard-working Ohioans about D.C. insiders like Senator Portman: Portman says one thing to Ohio, does the opposite in Washington, and then flip-flops again for the sake of his political ambitions,” said Ohio Democratic Party Executive Director Greg Beswick. “Senator Portman is making a habit of these election-year conversions, but nothing can erase Senator Portman’s long and despicable record of prioritizing the Washington power brokers and wealthy special interests he serves at the expense of Ohio families struggling with drug addiction.”

Here’s a quick explanation for Senator Portman’s vote today:

  • 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.”

  • The Hill wrote that Portman is “coming under fire from Democrats both in Ohio and Washington, D.C., who suggest that he’s flip-flopped on the issue… Democrats also point to the Republican senator’s stint as the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, where he helped work on a budget that included cuts to funds for substance abuse programs.”

  • Bloomberg wrote that Portman faces “a choice: Back a Democratic push for $600 million to fight the opioid epidemic or risk accusations they aren’t doing enough to combat an epidemic killing tens of thousands of Americans each year… Portman so far has resisted the amendment…”

And this was not the first time Sen. Portman has come under fire for repeatedly opposing efforts to provide the funding to tackle the drug abuse crisis:

  • Portman touted an anti-heroin bill, but voted against its funding. The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote, “But he 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 that Portman denounced as wasteful and likely to drive up deficits. This puts the Ohio Republican in an awkward position.”

  • Portman bragged about the drug abuse provisions of the budget bill, but then voted against those same provisions. The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that Portman’s hypocrisy is “how Washington ticks off the rest of America.”

  • Portman voted against additional funding to combat drug abuse, in favor of protecting tax breaks for the wealthy special interests and Washington power brokers he serves. Senate Democrats held a press conference to call on Republicans like Portman to back up their rhetoric and support desperately needed emergency supplemental funding to help stem the opioid abuse crisis — the same funding that Portman voted against.

  • As Office of Management and Budget Director, Portman slashed drug abuse funding. In fact, a new 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.

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