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Government & Politics

Ohio's Sen. Portman Says He Didn't Know a 2016 Law Would Kill a Key DEA Opioid Enforcement Tool

photo of Washington Post conversation

During a live-streamed conversation, Ohio's U.S. Sen. Rob Portman discussed the possibility President Trump declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency.

Portman also acknowledged that he was not aware that a law passed last year limits the enforcement powers of the DEA. The Washington Post reports the law, known as the  Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, prevents the agency from freezing suspicious narcotics shipments, which was a powerful prevention method for the agency.

“Apparently it was unanimous consent in committee, unanimous consent on the floor…but obviously that’s one of the issues that we need to re-look at, we need to go back and examine that. I did look this morning at what the DEA enforcement actions were around that time and they were significantly reduced before the legislation was passed.”


Portman is author of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which expands treatment and funding for people recovering from opioid abuse.

Portman's statement

“If the agencies are all told by the top, “this is an epidemic,” which it is, this is a national emergency, it will make a difference. But Congress has to also view this as an emergency and that requires us to do a better job of providing longer term funding. And not just funding, it’s not a matter of throwing money at the issue, it’s a matter of finding what works.”

Portman's bill passed at about the same time as the DEA bill. It received a lot more attention and a traditional vote. 

Click here for a link to the Washington Post expose on the DEA bill.