President Obama’s nominee to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration is being held up over a Democratic senator’s demand that the DEA allow nurses to deliver powerful painkillers to nursing home patients.
The DEA’s top spot has been vacant for more than three years, but Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) has vowed to block Michele Leonhart’s nomination unless the agency bends to his wishes.
Kohl wants the agency to work with his panel to develop guidelines that would empower nurses to write prescriptions and administer morphine, Percocet and other powerful painkillers to patients when a doctor is unavailable.
Despite the committee’s warnings that a failure to ease painkiller standards would result in a block on Leonhart’s nomination, the DEA has so far been non-responsive to the committee, said Kohl spokeswoman Ashley Glacel.
“They had plenty of warnings,” Glacel said. “Apparently, they’re not taking this seriously.”
The DEA deferred comment on the nomination to the White House.