March 02, 2018

Warren Questions Trump's ONDCP Nominee James Carroll Ahead of Confirmation Hearing

Raises Concerns about Carroll's Qualifications and President Trump's Inaction on Opioid Crisis

Text of letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent a letter to President Trump's nominee for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director James Carroll, requesting information on his public health and addiction policy experience and on how he would use the role of ONDCP Director to strengthen the White House's weak response to the opioid crisis.

The ONDCP plays a critical role in directing the Trump Administration's response to the opioid epidemic, which continues to wreak havoc in communities across the United Sates. But Mr. Carroll has never held a job focused on public health or addiction.

"While I am pleased that the President has nominated a Director, I am concerned that you have little experience in public health or addiction policy," wrote Senator Warren. "Your lack of experience is particularly concerning, given the existing lack of drug policy expertise among those tasked by President Trump to combat the epidemic."

According to recent reports, Kellyanne Conway - who is also not a public health or addiction expert - has been "freezing out drug policy professionals" in her efforts to coordinate the White House's opioid response and "relying instead on political staff." The ONDCP, meanwhile, is reportedly so understaffed that in January 2018, a 24-year-old with no relevant experience was serving as Deputy Chief of Staff.

If confirmed, Mr. Carroll would be leading an agency under a President who has done little to tangibly combat the opioid epidemic. Though President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency last year, he has not taken advantage of the supplemental authorities afforded to the executive branch during such an emergency. His budget proposal would gut ONDCP's funding by 95 percent. 

In her letter, Senator Warren requested that Mr. Carroll outline concrete actions he would take to confront the opioid crisis and provide his qualifications for ONDCP Director by no later than March 16, 2018.