Americans are dying at the rate of 175 a day from opioid overdoses, but President Trump has yet to deliver his promised strategy to end the crisis.
And so the people’s representatives, in the absence of presidential leadership, did about the only thing they could do. They had a day of opioid karaoke.
There wasn’t actual music. But it was open-mic day Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The panel invited members of Congress to take the witness seat and, in three minutes or less, sing a sad song about how the opioid crisis is ruining the lives of their constituents.
“In Oregon alone more people died last year from drug overdoses than from car accidents,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R).
“The opioid epidemic is having devastating consequences in my home state” of New Jersey, said Rep. Frank Pallone (D).
“In 2016, more than 2,000 opioid deaths in Michigan alone,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R).
“North Carolina has a real problem on its hands,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D).
“There are enough bottles of painkillers in circulation for nearly every Hoosier to have one of their own,” said Rep. Susan Brooks (R) of Indiana.
“Five-hundred and one New Mexicans died overdose-related deaths,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D).
“Drug overdoses cause nearly four times as many deaths as compared to traffic accidents” in Ohio, said Rep. Bob Latta (R).
“I can give you some statistics from Vermont,” offered Rep. Peter Welch (D). And he did.
On and on it went, in bipartisan harmony. After 90 minutes of these elegies, I checked with staff to see how many performers remained; we weren’t even half way through the set.
Every one of them had an idea, many of the ideas were good, and a few might even become law. But it’s all of little use as long as the Trump administration is doing nothing. The president seems to be singing a different tune: “When You Say Nothing at All.” This is what it’s like when there’s no functioning president.