Frustrated lawmakers grill feds on opioid crisis

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Lawmakers questioned a panel of witnesses from all aspects of government on Tuesday to find out how America is fending off the opioid crisis.

Senators grilled officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice, Health and Human Services Department and Office of National Drug Control Policy. The witnesses were called to share updates on their efforts to lower the number of opioid deaths.

But Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) wasn’t satisfied. At one point, he told the witnesses, “I don’t speak BS.”

The Senators pressed the agencies on policies they said threaten lives. It was a bipartisan effort from the committee, with members from both sides of the aisle teaming up to get answers.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis from North Carolina asked the panel what more Congress can do to help the process, while Democratic California Sen. Diane Feinstein pressed them to get on board with making fentanyl illegal.

“Our country has been ravaged by an addiction epidemic and it costs tens of thousands of lives each year,” she said. “So failure should not be an option.”

In the end, witnesses said they can do better.

“(The) DEA realizes that we could have done things differently, we are doing things differently,” William McDermott with the DEA said.

Lawmakers plan to hold them to that promise.

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