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Our Congress at work: Unanimously unread bills

October 21. 2017 6:39PM

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation praised the decision of U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., to withdraw as the nation’s drug czar nominee for his role in passing a 2016 law that weakened federal control over opioid shipments into the U.S. (Bill Clark/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom/ZUMA Press/TNS)

A bill influenced by the pharmaceutical industry was passed unanimously by the U.S. Congress last year and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

With that overwhelming, bipartisan support, the bill certainly must have been an immensely popular and needed reform, yes?

Not exactly. In fact, some officials within the Drug Enforcement Agency were saying in 2016 and are still saying that the law harms their ability to go after companies that supply millions of opioids to drive-by, fast-buck pharmacies, doctors and others.

Their claim was prominently reported in a Washington Post-60 Minutes series last week. It has its doubters, who saw the new report's timing as an attempt to scuttle a Trump nomination, which it did. The congressman who co-sponsored the 2016 legislation withdrew his name to be national drug czar.

But the pluses and minuses of the bill aside, the discouraging part of this story is that the entire Congress, including New Hampshire's delegation, knew absolutely nothing about a bill involving an already raging opioid crisis.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, then-Sen. Kelly Ayotte, U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, and then-Rep. Frank Guinta were on board with this. In a procedure called "unanimous consent," the bill was not subject to debate, roll call vote or even a casual read.

Remember when Democratic House boss Nancy Pelosi was ridiculed for saying of the original Obamacare bill that the House would just have to pass it and then read it?

Seems like the same was true of the DEA bill. Are our officials elected and paid to represent the people or the lobbyists, left and right, who go through the revolving door from government to private business and back?

To ask the question is to answer it.

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