Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire
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Heads of Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Write to President Trump in Support of Emergency Declaration

Oct 20, 2017
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Today the leaders of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), wrote to President Trump urging him to follow through on his commitment to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. During a press conference on Monday, Trump indicated that he would declare a national emergency next week. The members urged the President to work with Congress to appropriate emergency supplemental funding to ensure that an emergency declaration can be an effective tool to address the opioid epidemic.

“This crisis has hit countless communities across the country and it leaves no demographic untouched,” wrote the members. “Virtually every one of our constituents has a family member or knows a friend who has suffered from the perils of opioid addiction. A national emergency declaration could provide the federal government additional tools it could use to help communities across the country grapple with this disease. While this declaration would be an important step, cooperation with Congress to provide the necessary funding to properly support such an emergency declaration is critical. We urge you to work with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to advance emergency supplemental funding as well as legislative proposals similar to those proposed in our legislative agenda and your own Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis findings.”

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

 

Dear Mr. President,

During your press conference on Monday you committed to formally declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency. As the Co-Chairs of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, we strongly support this announcement and stand ready to serve as a resource to make the emergency declaration an effective tool to address the opioid crisis.  We write to you today to reiterate the need for immediate action to combat the worst drug crisis in United States history. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released preliminary data on drug overdose deaths in 2016 and found the number to exceed 60,000 Americans. In other words, more Americans died of drug overdoses in one year than Americans died in the entire Vietnam War. Unfortunately, the majority of those deaths were related to opioid misuse.

The CDC’s new data underscores the immediate need for an emergency declaration. CDC found that, for the first time, fentanyl was the leading cause of drug deaths in 2016. The crisis is rapidly evolving. The proliferation of synthetic opioids makes this epidemic less predictable and more dangerous. Law enforcement’s capacity to stymie the trafficking of illicit opioids has become seriously challenged because of the new distribution method of synthetic opioids. These drugs are often acquired through mail-order services from overseas vendors in China, which makes tracking and control of the drug increasingly difficult.

The nation’s public health infrastructure is also struggling to cope with the crisis and the increasingly common use of synthetic opioids. The potency and lower cost of synthetic opioids makes them a very attractive commodity for users – and an extremely dangerous substance when released within a community ravaged by the prescription opioid crisis. While the increased availability of opioid overdose reversal medications like naloxone has helped many communities, the increased potency of synthetic opioids means a higher dosage of naloxone is required to help a patient in need. These anecdotes underscore the need for more federal action to address the skyrocketing rate of drug deaths.

This crisis has hit countless communities across the country and it leaves no demographic untouched. Virtually every one of our constituents has a family member or knows a friend who has suffered from the perils of opioid addiction. A national emergency declaration could provide the federal government additional tools it could use to help communities across the country grapple with this disease. While this declaration would be an important step, cooperation with Congress to provide the necessary funding to properly support such an emergency declaration is critical. We urge you to work with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to advance emergency supplemental funding as well as legislative proposals similar to those proposed in our legislative agenda and your own Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis findings.

We stand ready to assist you in a bipartisan manner to ensure any national emergency declaration for the opioid crisis is well-resourced and has the full support of Congress.

 

Sincerely,

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster                                    
Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Co-Chair  

 

Rep. Tom MacArthur

Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Co-Chair

 

Rep. Donald Norcross

Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Vice-Chair

 

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick                                          

Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Vice-Chair            

 

 

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