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Warren questions Conway's role in curbing opioid epidemic

Warren questions Conway's role in curbing opioid epidemic
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGovernment watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes David Crosby: Shared dislike for Trump could reunite Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Dem senators tell Trump he doesn’t have ‘legal authority’ to launch preemptive strike on North Korea MORE (D-Mass.) is asking for clarification on White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s role in combating the opioid epidemic.

In a letter sent Monday to John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, President Trump’s chief of staff, Warren noted, in response to confusion on Conway's role last week, that “according to a report by CBS news, the White House later stated that her role was ‘not expanding and opioids has always been part of her policy portfolio,’ after multiple news outlets reported that she would be the White House's ‘drug czar.’ ”

In a series of questions, Warren quizzed Kelly on the White House counselor's duties and her experience, asking the administration if Conway has previously worked on drug or addiction policy or managed public health issues.

Conway has been active on the opioid epidemic within the administration and previously traveled with former Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceWhat Trump didn't say in his State of the Union address CDC director bought tobacco stock while in office Overnight Health Care: Senate Dems block 20-week abortion ban | Azar sworn in as HHS chief | Dems demand answers on family planning funds | GOP takes sting out of ObamaCare MORE to areas of the country ravaged by the crisis.

At a press conference last week, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law New immigration policy leaves asylum seekers in the lurch MORE praised her efforts to address the opioid epidemic — a crisis that has lead to a skyrocketing increase in overdoses around the country.

Sessions said Trump has “asked [Conway] to coordinate and lead the effort from the White House,” which sparked confusion as to whether or not Conway’s role on opioids was expanding and if she was being appointed “opioid czar.”

Warren also asked when the Trump administration plans to make nominations for two positions critical to curbing the crisis.

Warren asked for a timeline for sending to the Senate nominations to lead the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“While the White House has made numerous announcements about the opioid crisis, including the release of recommendations from the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and the formal declaration of a national public health emergency, these steps are not adequate without critical funding and strong, experienced leadership,” Warren wrote.