Ohio Leaders Speak Out Against Sen. Rob Portman’s Record of Opposing Funding to Combat the Heroin Epidemic

Chillicothe Mayor, Pike County Judge, ODP Executive Director Discuss Epidemic’s Effect on Ohio Communities and Need for Funding

COLUMBUS — As the Senate is set to vote on an anti-heroin and opioid abuse bill, today Ohio leaders spoke out against Sen. Rob Portman’s record of prioritizing the Washington power brokers and wealthy special interests he serves at the expense of Ohio families struggling with drug addiction.

During a press conference call held by the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP), Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney and ODP Executive Director Greg Beswick highlighted Portman’s record of touting his anti-heroin efforts, but opposing actual funding to combat the epidemic. With Judge Paul Price of the Pike County Court, founder of the Pike County Drug Court, they discussed how drug abuse affects Ohio communities and the desperate need for adequate funding.

“The heroin and opioid abuse epidemic has affected families across our state, regardless of demographic,” said Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney. “I have seen first hand, this crisis is not something that can be solved with rhetoric out of Washington. The people of Chillicothe just want a government that works for them, prioritizes them and delivers on promises. To truly take on the crisis, resources are needed – and what we certainly do not need is Rob Portman prioritizing the wealthy special interests he serves at the expense of Ohio families.”

“As a judge in southern Ohio, I often witness the tragic effects of heroin and opioid addiction first hand,” said Judge Paul Price of the Pike County Court. “This is not just an epidemic, it is a plague, killing people everyday – and we need funding to take it on.”

“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. “He needs to stop playing politics with this issue, stop pushing the interests of the Washington power brokers at our expense and support emergency funding to combat the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic. Unfortunately, with his record as a guide, we know he won’t. When it comes to stopping drug abuse, the stakes are too high to settle for Rob Portman’s despicable D.C. double-talk.”

This is not the first time Portman has come under fire for repeatedly opposing efforts to provide the funding to tackle the drug abuse crisis:

  • The ODP launched a petition earlier this week calling on Portman to stop playing politics and putting the interests of Washington power brokers over Ohio when it comes to drug abuse.

  • 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 Omnibus 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.