Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 2.1.16
Fast and Furious and El Chapo
Though it didn’t receive widespread coverage in the press, there have been recent developments related to Fast and Furious that I want to be sure was brought to your attention.
As you may recall, the Fast and Furious program was run through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives ostensibly in an attempt to track the sale of weapons to Mexican drug cartel leaders to help lead to their arrest. However, an estimated 1,400 of the 2,000 guns involved in the operation were lost* and few high-level cartel leaders were arrested, thus leading me and others to believe the operation may have been designed in part to politically move more Americans to favor gun control.
Bloomberg recently reported that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington rejected the President’s assertion of executive privilege, ruling that “The Obama Administration must hand over documents sought by a congressional committee that has been reviewing the failed U.S. Justice Department weapons-trafficking probe known as Operation Fast and Furious.”
Additionally, a .50-caliber rifle funneled through Fast and Furious was among the weapons found at the hideout of the drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman who had escaped from a Mexican prison last year. At the time of the writing of this column, we can find no information as to a criminal charge related to the .50-caliber rifle.
As you may recall, in June 2012, my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives voted to hold then- Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requesting documents related to the Fast and Furious operation. To many of us, it appeared that Holder intentionally had misled Congress.
These developments ought to make clear that the Fast and Furious gun-smuggling scandal is not actually over. Rest assured I am continuing to track this important matter.
This Administration has repeatedly advocated more gun control, turning tragedies where a gun is involved into political opportunities. While certainly our laws should be reviewed periodically, the acts of terrorists or deranged individuals should not be used to take away the gun rights of law-abiding citizens. I will continue to protect our Second Amendment rights and also will continue to work for better mental health options in order to hopefully prevent as many mass shootings as possible.
Recently, I was contacted by my allergists about the United States Pharmacopeia’s (USP) proposed revisions to sterility standards for the compounding of drugs, including allergen immunotherapy. USP is a non-profit organization that publishes drug formularies and quality standards, and these standards are sometimes enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for drug manufacturers and pharmacies. My allergists are concerned that these new standards may have adverse effects on the availability and affordability of allergy shots, so my office is reviewing the proposal and plans to meet with USP to discuss it.
As you are aware, I led the charge in Congress to enact new, common-sense regulations on compounding pharmacies which distinguished them from illegal drug manufacturers like the New England Compounding Center, whose tainted sterile injections led to a fungal meningitis outbreak of 2012. In fact, the bipartisan legislation that I worked on called at one point for national adoption of USP sterility standards for all compounding pharmacies. I believe we need such a standard to protect the public health of our citizens, but likewise, I want to ensure that any revisions do not become so burdensome that we eliminate affordable access to useful treatments like custom allergy shots that many in our tree- and forest floor-rich area receive.
If you, like my allergists, may have a federal problem, please don’t hesitate to let my team and I know. Part of my job as your Representative is to try and help you address federal issues you may be having. Of course, I can’t work to fix a problem if I am not aware it exists.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.