Shaheen on Dallas Shooting, Sanders Endorsement, Opioid Legislation

Jul 12, 2016

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Senator Jeanne Shaheen says while passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act this week will be a step in the right direction, it's ultimately a disappointment because it doesn't include the funding needed to address the crisis.

"While it makes some changes in programs so that it expands what we can do under certain programs, it doesn’t include the funding that is so desperately needed," Shaheen told NHPR's Morning Edition.

The bill will, among other things, expand the availability of Narcan, reduce the amount of unwanted or unused prescription medications by creating more disposal and turn-in sites, expand drug prevention and education, and change policies to allow doctors to more easily prescribe medications to help treat addiction.

It passed the House last week by a 405-7 vote, and the Senate is expected to take it up this week. The bill authorizes $181 million in new spending, but Shaheen and others pushed for $600 million in emergency funding.

"I supported increasing funding, I supported emergency funding to address heroin and opioid addiction, President Obama has supported that," she added. "I’m really disappointed that although we got the legislation, we were not able to get the funding because opponents in the House and Senate."

You can read the full transcript of Sen. Shaheen's interview with Morning Edition below:

Before getting to Tuesday’s event, I want to get your thoughts on the events of the past week: the murder of five police officers in Dallas and the death of two African-American men at the hands police, sparking protests across the country.

What’s been going through your mind as you’re watching all this transpire?

How sad it is see this kind of needless violence and of course, like everyone in New Hampshire, my thoughts and prayers are with the families of slain and wounded police officers in Dallas, with police officers everywhere in this country. And course with the families of those black Americans who were killed. I think it speaks to the challenges we still have in this country and the divisions that we have to overcome.

So what needs to change? Are there steps Congress can take to help?

I think this is more about communities and how communities are dealing with each other. I think one of the great positive steps we’ve seen in New Hampshire is the community policing that has gone on, the effort of our law enforcement to get into our communities and to meet with people, to get to know people.

I think one of the very important things for political leaders is to dial back the hateful rhetoric that we’re hearing too often. This should be a time about trying to reduce the violence, looking at thoughtful ways we can bring people together, to work on these issues together. It should not be a time where we’re talking about vengeance and hate and inciting and exacerbating the violence that’s going on.

Getting to politics, you’ve been a supporter of Secretary Clinton’s, who’s expected to get the endorsement of Senator Sanders today.

His endorsement comes after concessions on key party platform on issues, including college affordability, health care and calling for a national $15 an hour minimum wage.

Are these all changes you’re willing to get behind?

The platform is a statement of party principle; it's not necessarily about what is able to be accomplished. I think certainly think that while in principle I support all of those things, some of them would be very difficult to get done.

  Well, the platform is a statement of party principle; it’s not necessarily about what is able to be accomplished. I think certainly think that while in principle I support all of those things, some of them would be very difficult to get done. I’m pragmatic. I think we ought to try and move the ball forward, get done what we can get done, see how we can compromise to move an agenda on college affordability, on energy, on how we can make sure people can earn a living wage. All of those things I think are very important. I’ve been working on those virtually my entire career in public life and I will continue to work on them.

Can you talk a little bit about how Senator Sanders has pulled the party to the left?

Well, what I’m excited about is Bernie Sanders is here in New Hampshire today, that he’s endorsing Hillary, and that he’s going to I believe get out and campaign for Hillary. He understands what I think all Democrats understand: that Donald Trump should not be President of the United States, that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified, the most experienced candidate we’ve had in my lifetime to be president. I’m excited that the party’s coming together behind her and that Bernie’s on board and that he’s going to be campaigning for her.

On the issue of Secretary Clinton’s emails, while there will be no charges, the FBI did conclude that she did send and receive classified information on her private server and that she and her staff were extremely careless in the handling of classified information.

Does any of that concern you?

Look, Hillary has said that in hindsight she didn’t handle her emails as well as she should have, that it was a mistake, and she’s taken responsibility for that decision and now I think it’s time to move on. I think what people I’m talking to are concerned about is who is going to offer a vision for this country that’s going to address the rising inequality between the top and the bottom, who’s going to talk about raising incomes for people, who’s going to talk about how young people can go to college who want to go to college, how to achieve equal pay for women, how are we going to address gun violence, how are we going to protect a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health choices. Those are the issues I hear people talking about it.

But this is an issue that’s going to persist throughout the general election campaign. Are there any concerns about these trust issues?

Hillary’s opponents, the Republicans in this country, want to talk about emails because they don’t want to talk about Donald Trump’s agenda for this country. And that’s what this debate is all about. I think what we’re going to see as this campaign goes forward is a continuing stark contrast between Hillary’s knowledge and understanding of what we need to do to lead this country and Donald Trump’s lack of knowledge and expertise and understanding of what we need to do to lead this country.

One last item: there’s an important vote this week in the Senate on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. What are the biggest ways this is going to help fight the addiction battle here in New Hampshire?

I think the CARA legislation, as it’s called, is a step forward, but it’s just a step because what it does not include are the resources that communities need to address the addiction crisis. And while it makes some changes in program so that expands what we can do under certain programs, it doesn’t include the funding is so desperately needed. I supported increasing funding, I supported emergency funding to address heroin and opioid addiction, President Obama has supported that. I’m really disappointed that although we got the legislation, we were not able to get the funding because opponents in the House and Senate.