McConnell to Support Confirmation of Michael Botticelli as Drug Czar

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the nomination of Michael Botticelli to be the Director of National Drug Control Policy:

“Today, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Michael Botticelli to be the next Director of National Drug Control Policy. I look forward to working with our nation’s next Drug Czar, just as I’ve worked with previous Drug Czars.

“Drug abuse is a serious problem in my home state. Kentucky is the fifth-highest prescribing state when it comes to painkillers, and we have the nation’s third-highest drug-overdose mortality rate — with many deaths driven by prescription painkillers.

“Heroin abuse is also a problem in the Bluegrass State. Heroin deaths accounted for 32 percent of drug overdoses in 2013, and they continue to climb. The epicenter of the heroin problem is located in the northern region, across the river from Cincinnati, although I’m hearing from more and more constituents that heroin abuse is rising across the Commonwealth.

“All told, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy reports that about 1,000 Kentuckians lose their lives overdosing on drugs every year — which is more than we lose to fatal car crashes.

“That’s another reason why I was pleased to welcome a prior Drug Czar, R. Gil Kerlikowske, to tour Kentucky and take a close-up look at the problems we face.

“He visited Louisville, Lexington, London, and Pikeville — four communities, both urban and rural, from across the state. He met with Kentuckians who work to tackle this issue from every angle: public health officials, medical professionals, law enforcement officials, drug courts, members of the business community, and Kentuckians involved with prevention.

“The Drug Czar’s visit helped focus more federal attention and federal resources on this issue. And in a time of strained budgets, that extra attention and those extra resources are important.

“I’m also pleased to report that Mr. Botticelli plans to visit Eastern Kentucky soon. He also plans, at my invitation, to visit Northern Kentucky this spring. Visits like these help ensure a continued federal focus on Kentucky’s drug problem. And I look forward to working with the next Drug Czar to move closer to a day when drug abuse no longer ravages our families and our communities.”

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