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Salinas urges House to eliminate anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion parts of defense budget bill

The Oregon Democratic congresswoman says “partisan extremists” endanger funding in the bill needed to fight the opioid crisis
U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Oregon, speaks on the House floor on March 10, 2023. | C-SPAN SCREENSHOT
September 14, 2023

U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas of Oregon told the Republican House leadership that anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ parts of the proposed defense appropriations bill are jeopardizing the passage of more than $1 billion in the bill to fight the opioid crisis. 

The Democratic congresswoman, who represents Oregon’s 6th District, sent a letter Wednesday to Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, noting her concerns about the proposed 2024 defense appropriations bill. The bill includes amendments that would limit funding for gender-affirming care and allow organizations that receive federal contracts or grants to discriminate against LGBTQ people and anti-abortion provisions related to the military.

The bill also includes $1.16 billion to combat the opioid crisis, and Salinas said that it’s irresponsible to put politicized, divisive language into a bill with much-needed funding that can save lives.

“Injecting the FY 2024 Defense Appropriations Bill, and other key funding bills, with anti-LGBTQ2SIA+ and anti-choice riders isn’t just morally reprehensible – it’s downright dangerous,” Salinas wrote in the letter. “It diminishes the likelihood of this bill’s passage, jeopardizing much-needed funds and resources that could be put to good use in the most at-risk communities.”

Oregon has been hard hit by the opioid crisis, with the amount of police-seized fentanyl rapidly increasing: In 2018, police seizures in the state’s major drug trafficking areas increased from 690 counterfeit pills in 2018 to more than 2 million in 2022, Salinas wrote.

And deaths have increased: 280 people died from opioid overdoses in 2019, 472 in 2020 and 745 in 2021, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Many of the deaths are from fentanyl, which is so lethal that the equivalent of two grains of sand can kill. It is often laced in illicit pills made to resemble prescription oxycodone or tranquilizers such as Xanax.

“The ineffective implementation of voter-driven state laws, like Measure 110, have only made matters worse as treatment options remain elusive for those most in need of help,” Salinas wrote.

Salinas urged her colleagues to remember that the fentanyl crisis affects people of all backgrounds and throughout the U.S.

“Now more than ever, we must unite behind bold, bipartisan efforts to curb the spread of fentanyl and the synthetic opioids at the heart of this disturbing trend,” Salinas wrote. “Congress cannot afford to delay – nor can it afford to be hijacked by partisan extremists who stand in the way of progress.”

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