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Casten, Underwood take heat over fentanyl ban vote

Friday, Jan 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Jeanne Ives campaign…

This week, Sean Casten voted against a bipartisan measure to extend a federal ban on the illegal sale of fentanyl – a synthetic opioid that in one year killed over 32,000 Americans.

The opioid crisis is destroying lives and hurting families across the nation, and has created additional pressures on the law enforcement community. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that in one year killed over 32,000 Americans, and nearly 1,300 in Illinois. The measure may not be a permanent solution, but it protects communities until a more meaningful solution to the overdose crisis can be found.

Sean Casten, apparently, is not concerned with protecting vulnerable communities. Had the vote gone his way, Fentanyl would no longer be treated as a Schedule 1 Drug (a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse). This means it would have been substantially harder for federal law enforcement to prosecute those who deal drugs that are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths over the past several years.

To be clear, a study by the RAND Corporation found, “The sudden appearance of the drug fentanyl in the US has driven up overdose deaths dramatically…”

“Sean Casten truly represents the extreme left-wing of the Democrat base,” Ives said. “His reason for voting against this common sense measure was his worry that street dealers would be over prosecuted. It is because of radicals like him that Democrats are becoming the party of lawlessness and anarchy. We have to wonder: What will be the next law Casten won’t want enforced? How will he tie law enforcement’s hands next?

“He supports sanctuary city policies, which prevent violent criminals - in the country illegally - from being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He advocates more gun control laws, but won’t hold Kim Foxx accountable for refusing to prosecute gun crimes in Chicago. Now, he protects drug dealers rather than the families in his district.”

Want to see where this ends? Just look at the city that made ‘Jussie Smollett’ a household name: Chicago - a deep blue sanctuary city inside a sanctuary state. According to, Chicago’s rate of crime averages 79% higher than the rest of Illinois while the rate of crime on a national scale is 62% higher than. The occurrence of violent crime in Chicago is 149% higher than the average rate of crime in Illinois and 164% higher than the rest of the nation. Similarly, crime involving property stands 65% higher than the remainder of the state of Illinois and 45% higher than the nation’s average.

“It’s no blueprint for the rest of the country,” Ives continued. “And Sean Casten is no representative of the Sixth District.”

Um, that would be the kitchen sink in its entirety. Plus the refrigerator.

* Greg Hinz

In a phone interview, Casten said voting for the bill, which would put into federal law a temporary fentanyl ban that was imposed administratively, might have helped him get a few votes at election time. But, “I’m not in this job because I’m a politician,” he added. “I’m in it for policy.”

“You can’t find any instance in history where criminalizing a drug has prevented its use,” Casten continued. “Until we invest in rehabilitation and treatment, we’re not going to solve the problem,” and the bill did not fund such efforts. […]

“The opioid crisis has been ravaging communities across the country, and fentanyl in particular poses a grave national threat that I take extremely seriously as the vice chair of the Homeland Security Committee,” said [US Rep. Lauren Underwood]. “While I am supportive of expanding law enforcement’s ability to quickly go after new fentanyl analogues, it must be paired with a strong, comprehensive public health approach to the opioid crisis that includes access to treatment and giving judges the sentencing discretion to make the best decisions for communities on a case-by-case basis.”

Another congresswoman who opposed the legislation, Matteson’s Robin Kelly, said the bill should have contained an exemption for medical research and should not have included mandatory minimum sentences.


  1. - NIU Grad - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 3:16 pm:

    Yikes. This will be a messy campaign.

  2. - Hamlet's Ghost - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 3:18 pm:

    Robin Kelly, from the link:

    “I have long opposed mandatory minimums for non-violent offense because they are proven to over incarcerate people of color,” Kelly said. “While I support efforts to address our nation’s opioid crisis, legislation with discriminatory mandatory minimums and no research exemptions are not the solution.”

    Also voting no on the bill were area Reps. Danny Davis, Bill Foster, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Bobby Rush, Jan Schakowsky and Brad Schneider.

  3. - Not again - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 3:19 pm:

    Very sloppy when you open yourself up and make Ives look right on an issue.

  4. - Al This - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 3:28 pm:

    Fentanyl is used for extreme pain in cases of end of life situations and cancer. So how can it legally be a schedule one drug?
    Also what does Chicago crime rates have to do with the sixth district?

  5. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 3:51 pm:

    ==- Al This - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 3:28 pm:==

    Answering the second questions, it has only do with the virulent racism of Jeanne Ives.

  6. - Former Candidate on the Ballot - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 3:52 pm:

    I know this is a State focused Blog - But how/why did Pelosi let this bill get to the floor when all of the Illinois Dems voted No?

    Maybe she should take a lesson from MJM on which bills to present in preparations for campaign season/s

  7. - DrugPolicyGAL - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 3:55 pm:

    It’s not about the fentanyl per se, what is killing people is the lack of consistency or purity in the illicit marketplace. Fentanyl is used in medical on the regular for surgeries and for pain. It alone is not a “killer” it is not knowing the amount that is in a drug that makes it deadly. I have never seen a ban on a drug decrease the use of the drug. For example see MDMA moved into class 1 - no medical use and use continued. What we need to solve this crisis is real time drug checking data so that people who have opioid use disorders and are purchasing street drugs know what they are getting.

    When people find out there is fentanyl in their street drugs, they do change their using habits, using less at once.

    Having naloxone and never using alone is the way out of this crisis and creating demand reduction solutions (e.g. expanding methadone and buprenorphine access) has a bigger impact than supply side interventions.

  8. - Yiddishcowboy - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 4:07 pm:

    @Al This: I thought the same thing: Fentanyl is currently used in hospitals, among other places, for extreme pain. In short, there’s definitely a legitimate medical use (and need) for the drug.

    What are you talking about Jeanne?

  9. - Responsa - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 4:14 pm:

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good seems applicable here. This was over all a majorly bi-partisan bill despite the IL Dem delegation. Really surprised especially that Underwood, a health professional who one would think has seen the devastation of fentanyl first hand, voted no.

  10. - Responsa - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 4:28 pm:

    Final House vote was 320 to 88. This short article explains the difference between fentanyl analogs and prescription fentanyl.–567448221.html

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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