An extension of bipartisan legislation involving fentanyl has been signed into law by President Trump. Supporters say the legislation will decrease the number of opioid-related deaths.

U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, (left) visits the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority in Scott City in January 2019 (file photo courtesy of Congressman Smith’s office)

Longtime Poplar Bluff Police Chief Danny Whiteley had been calling on Congress to approve the extension. The chief was a special guest of U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, at last week’s State of the Union Address in Washington.

“He (Chief Whiteley) is an individual that I rely on heavily for his advice, his expertise, because he’s been combating this for over two decades as the police chief there in Poplar Bluff, Missouri,” Smith says.

Congressman Smith voted for the extension. Poplar Bluff is located in southeast Missouri’s Butler County, which has seen 19 opioid-related deaths in the past two years.

Chief Whiteley tells Missourinet Cape Girardeau television partner KFVS that the majority of fentanyl and heroin in the Poplar Bluff area is coming from St. Louis.

As for the State of the Union Address, Congressman Smith says it’s one of the best speeches he’s heard the president deliver. Smith, who represents 30 southern Missouri counties, says America’s economy is booming and that the middle class is thriving. He credits President Trump for what he describes as America’s comeback.

“We have seven million new jobs that’s been created, 56,000 new jobs just in the state of Missouri under his presidency,” says Smith.

The White House says 11,000 of those new Missouri jobs involve manufacturing and that real median Missouri household incomes are up eight percent under the president, at $57,000.

Smith is the GOP Conference Secretary on Capitol Hill. His district includes Cape Girardeau, Kennett, Rolla and West Plains.

Not everyone in Missouri’s congressional delegation agrees with Smith.

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, sees the economy differently. Clay, who’s a dean in Missouri’s congressional delegation, is critical of President Trump and his proposed budget, saying it includes a $182 billion cut to the federal food stamp program. It’s known as SNAP.

Congressman Clay says the president is not lifting people off food stamps, but is “kicking them off.” Clay describes the president’s budget as “an assault on working families.”

Congressman Smith also wants Congress to focus this year on lowering prescription drug costs and addressing the mental health crisis.

Smith is also pleased with another part of the State of the Union: President Trump awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to national talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who’s from Cape Girardeau.

Smith says it’s special for southeast Missourians, noting the award is the nation’s highest civilian honor.

“His family lives in Cape Girardeau, his brother, his nephews, his cousins,” Smith says. “I mean, he’s from southeast Missouri.”

The 69-year-old Limbaugh announced last week that he’s starting treatment for lung cancer, saying he’s been diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease.

Limbaugh was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 2012.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, which was recorded on February 6, 2020:

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