BOSTON (CBS) – Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-8th District) says he was “stunned” by the March 2016 maneuvering by GOP leaders in Congress to pass a bill curbing federal power to crackdown on suspected opioid distribution scofflaw.
“It never came up for a roll call vote,” Lynch said.
Instead, as a 60 Minutes/Washington Post expose has documented, the bill breezed through both branches by unanimous consent – no debate or vote – before being signed into law by then-President Obama.
“This was treated like the naming of a post office or something like that,” says Lynch in a WBZ-TV interview that will air this Sunday, Oct. 22, at 8:30 a.m. “The House and Senate leaders have the prerogative of looking at bills and saying what’s controversial and what’s not.”
And Lynch says this is hardly the first time opioid industry lobbyists have had their way with Congress.
“Back in 2006 I had a bill, very basic, to ban Oxycontin, because I saw the high addiction rate in my district,” he says. “I never had a chance because of all the lobbyists working on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies.”
Public and political backlash against this latest backroom move has already killed the nomination of Congressman Tom Marino (R-Pennsylvania), a lead sponsor of the bill, to be national drug czar. And Lynch says the fallout isn’t over.
“I think it shocked a lot of people and I think that helps us with the repeal effort,” which includes several bills, including one filed by Lynch. “I’m embarassed that the Republican leadership allowed something like this to happen.”