At the Senate Finance Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Montana Senator Steve Daines challenged Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to help combat the methamphetamine crisis in Montana and across the country.

“In Montana, we are facing a meth crisis,” began Daines. “In fact, it’s a Mexican meth crisis that is devastating our families and our communities. Unfortunately, it’s our children who will up entering the child welfare system, and they’re among the hardest hit. Statewide, roughly one third of our children in foster care are there because of meth use by their parents, and that’s why I sponsored the Child Protection and Family Support Act.”

Secretary Azar responded to Daines’ comments.

“Thank you for your leadership on the Child Protection and Family Support Act,” said Azar. “The Families First legislation, as Senator Wyden mentioned, gives us very valuable tools as it gives us very valuable tools to instead of incentivizing the outplacement of the foster care to keep kids together if we can make a safe home for them.”

Daines also challenged Azar on the charges against a former Indian Health Service employee, Stanley Weber.

“He was a former HIS pediatrician who sexually abused Native American boys on multiple Indian reservations including the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana,” he said. “He was convicted in Montana and despite repeated warning signs, IHS chose instead to turn a blind eye and he continued his behavior for decades. It’s a clear systemic breakdown of the worst nature.”

Azar responded.

“This conduct is unacceptable and intolerable, but the failure to root that out is also unacceptable and intolerable,” he said. “So, we have two investigative measures underway. I’ve asked the Office of the Inspector General to look at the policies and procedures involved, as well as a systemic approach. How can we make sure this never happens again, and have open systems of reporting. What, if anything in our culture allowed that to happen and go on and not be dealt with the way it should have been.”

Daines also recently sent a letter to the acting director of IHS demanding accountability from the agency for its unacceptable handling of Stanley Patrick Weber.

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