President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will convene Monday to discuss the opioid crisis, as Trump tries to avoid another deadly outbreak in his administration.
The first meeting, expected to last about 90 minutes, will be held at the White House, which is in the midst of a new administration with new top staffers and a new secretary of health and human services.
There are also plans for a luncheon with other members of the administration on Monday morning, a meeting that has been held previously in the White Senate, and a meeting on Wednesday morning at the State Department.
Trump has been criticized by Democrats and some in his own party for his handling of the opioid epidemic.
He has repeatedly refused to say whether he will be willing to address the crisis in his State of the Union address, and the Senate has declined to take up a measure he would need to declare a national emergency.
Democrats have sought to use the opioid issue to attack Trump, calling on him to address it and pledging to hold hearings on his administration’s responses to the crisis.
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called for a special prosecutor to investigate Trump’s handling of opioid addiction.
Trump’s health secretary, Dr. Tom Frieden, also spoke on the opioid and health crises.
“We cannot be indifferent to the impact of this epidemic on our country,” Frieden said at a news conference.
“We must take the lead in tackling this scourge of addiction.”
Frieden said that if there is evidence that the Trump administration has failed to take action, “we will not hesitate to pursue every avenue to hold those responsible to account.”
Trump has previously called for “a thorough investigation” of opioid abuse and addiction, but in recent weeks, his administration has taken steps to slow the rise of the epidemic, including appointing a task force to review the opioid problem.
In a recent op-ed, Frieden urged the president to “end the war on drugs” and said it would be a mistake to think that his administration is simply going to be a “good neighbor” when “it is, in fact, a destructive and dangerous policy.”
In his address to Congress on Tuesday, Trump promised to address “the opioid epidemic in the United States and abroad.”
“We are working hard to end the war that has claimed our lives, our families, and our countrys lifeblood,” he said.
“It’s a war we must win, and it’s a fight we must continue to win.
In a sign of how far the president has come in addressing the opioid situation, Trump’s first Cabinet meeting is set for Sunday afternoon at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where the president will deliver remarks.