WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., announced Thursday he is joining three Democratic representatives to introduce a bill to repeal provisions of a law that limited the power of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The legislation is a response to an investigation by The Washington Post and CBS’ “60 Minutes” into the revolving door between the DEA and drug distributors. According to the investigation, lobbyists with previous experience in the DEA pushed for a bill, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016, which limited the agency’s ability to go after drug distributors who shipped narcotics.
The measure passed both chambers of Congress without objection, and was signed into law by then President Barack Obama in April 2016.
Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino, who co-sponsored the bill, was President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy until he pulled his name Tuesday morning.
Jenkins said in a statement those responsible for contributing to the drug epidemic need to be held accountable for their actions.
“We need a DEA that is fully empowered to enforce opioid regulations and crack down on irresponsible distributors,” he said.
Jenkins introduced the legislation with Democratic Representatives Annie Kuster of New Hampshire, Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Tim Ryan of Ohio.
A Jenkins press release stated the bill is a companion measure to legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., on Monday. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is one of that bill’s co-sponsors.
“The DEA is one of our first lines of defense against this all-consuming disease,” he said in a Monday press release. “West Virginia’s families and communities deserve a DEA that will protect them, not pharmaceutical companies.”
The Senate bill calls for the repeal of amendments made by the passage of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act that limited the DEA’s ability to go after drug distributors who allegedly commit misconduct.