March 02, 2017

Nation must continue to support core values | The Herald-Dispatch

As a proud new member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I sent a letter to President Trump last week describing West Virginia's priorities that I believe will benefit our state and nation.

While I firmly believe that the national debt is one of the greatest threats facing this nation, I also believe that we must continue to invest in the values and principles that make this nation the greatest country on Earth. We must continue to take care of our children and help those in need; strengthen our economy and create jobs; keep our promises to seniors and veterans; preserve national security; and invest in infrastructure and energy independence.

In West Virginia, we value our children above all else because we know they are our greatest treasure and our future. That is why I have always been committed to supporting programs like Head Start, the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Child Care and Development Block Grant. These programs help ensure that each child has access to a quality education and the other important resources they need to thrive.

As many of our communities know all too well, West Virginia has been devastated by the opioid epidemic. In 2015, West Virginia had the highest per-capita rate of deaths - more than 600 people died in that year alone - due to an opioid overdose. That is why I have led the fight in Congress to increase federal support for prevention and treatment services. One of my signature bills, the LifeBOAT Act, establishes a one-cent-per-milligram stewardship fee on prescription opioids. This would provide important funding for the substance abuse treatment facilities we desperately need in West Virginia. The Centers for Disease Control, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration each have a critical role to play in addressing this epidemic and saving lives. I urge the president and my colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, to prioritize investments that will provide the resources necessary to finally end this epidemic.

West Virginia has always been known as a place where neighbors help neighbors and communities come together to take care of one another. Programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) aid families that may need a helping hand. In West Virginia, nearly half of all infants and one-quarter of all young children have utilized WIC services. Our food banks rely on federal support to provide meals to our friends and neighbors in need. These programs ensure West Virginia children do not go hungry, and I will continue fighting to ensure they are well funded.

I join many West Virginians in demanding that we get our financial house in order in this country. But we must confront our fiscal situation by clearly aligning our priorities with our core values. I look forward to working with President Trump, his administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress to put partisanship aside and set our nation on a new course for fiscal responsibility.