- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sen. Rob Portman parlayed his work to combat the prescription painkiller and heroin crisis into a series of campaign ads Tuesday, as he tries to stave off former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and win re-election in November.

Congress is trying to catch up with a devastating opioids outbreak that is killing more people than car crashes do in some places, and Mr. Portman, Ohio Republican, has frequently touted his efforts to stem the tide.

He co-authored a bipartisan opioids bill that breezed through the Senate, 94-1, in March and will be combined with House-passed reforms as part of a legislative conference.

“More than 25 Ohioans are dying every week from drug overdoses. Heroin addiction has become an epidemic sweeping across our communities, destroying lives, and tearing families apart,” Mr. Portman says in a 30-second ad titled “Wildfire.”

“Fortunately there is some hope on the way,” he says. “Working together with Democrats and Republicans, I passed legislation to help break the grip of addiction. By investing in prevention, treatment, and recovery, empowering law enforcement, and stopping the over prescribing of painkillers, we can turn the tide.”

Mr. Strickland, a Democrat, responded by saying Mr. Portman voted against the very “omnibus” spending package that would fund efforts to beat back addiction.

“Just like the hypocritical, ultimate Washington insider that he is, Senator Portman is trying to brag about drug abuse prevention efforts that he voted against funding,” Strickland campaign spokeswoman Liz Margolis said.

Democrats and the White House say efforts to combat the opioids epidemic will fall short unless Congress posts hundreds of millions in emergency funding to underpin their reforms, though Republican leaders say there is plenty in existing accounts to address the crisis.

Republican senators shot down Democrats’ bid to add $600 million in new money to the Senate opioids bill, though Mr. Portman and two other Republicans facing tough re-election battles — Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Mark Kirk of Illinois — supported the amendment.


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