Melania Trump receives warm welcome on first solo Capitol Hill visit amid Syria, impeachment drama
Posted October 23, 2019 1:53 p.m. EDT
CNN — President Donald Trump is a lightning rod on Capitol Hill, but his wife, however, apparently is not.
In her first solo visit to speak with lawmakers in the Capitol, Melania Trump on Wednesday morning was warmly welcomed, leading a bipartisan roundtable discussion on opioids. Participants included Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
Trump's visit came as the President faces rising opposition within his own party to his moves on Syria and amid the expanding impeachment inquiry focused on his pressure on Ukraine for investigations into his potential political rival Joe Biden.
The first lady convened the meeting to mark the one-year anniversary of the signing of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, a comprehensive policy that provides funding and guidance for assisting in the fight against opioid abuse.
In brief remarks, Trump said the SUPPORT Act dovetails with her childhood initiative, Be Best, a three-pronged platform that includes focus on children affected by the opioid crisis.
"Because of the SUPPORT Act, we are able to look at ways to reduce opioid use during pregnancy and recognize early childhood issues related to substance abuse," said the first lady.
She also touted National Drug Take Back Day, a program implemented by the Drug Enforcement Administration which provides a safe place for people to properly dispose of any unused opioid medications in their homes.
"I have traveled to some of the areas hardest hit by drug abuse and I have seen the devastating effects that this crisis has on families and children," Trump said.
After the event, Manchin, a Democrat who has voiced support for the ongoing impeachment inquiry against the President, continued to heap praise on Trump's wife.
"We were very pleased to have First Lady Melania Trump," said Manchin to CNN, adding he felt the bipartisan effort against the drug crisis is how Congress "is supposed to work."
"It's a shame that it took a crisis to bring us together," he said.
Manchin also bemoaned the divisive nature of current politics, adding, "We're better than this. People deserve better than what they're getting from Washington right now."
As she departed, Trump was asked by assembled press how the impeachment inquiry and surrounding investigations have been affecting her and her family, a topic on which she has yet to publicly comment. The first lady ignored the query, straightened her suit jacket, color-coordinated briefcase in hand, and walked to her waiting motorcade for the short drive back to the White House.