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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

Kuster Helps Introduce Bipartisan Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act

Jul 9, 2020
Press Release

Concord, NH – Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02), founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, joined Representatives Harley Rouda (CA-48) and Ted Budd (NC-13) to introduce the bipartisan Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act. This bill would help ensure Drug-Free Communities coalitions can continue to operate and reduce youth substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many aspects of our daily lives to a halt, the substance misuse epidemic continues to affect Granite Staters and Americans across the country,” said Kuster. “The public health and economic crisis caused by this virus has put many at heightened risk of substance misuse. This legislation will help ensure critical drug-free programs in our communities have the funding and resources they need to prevent substance misuse and help those who are struggling to recover and reclaim their lives. I’m pleased to join my colleagues to introduce this much-needed bipartisan legislation, and I will continue working toward solutions to address the substance misuse epidemic.”

"Orange County is fighting two public health crises — coronavirus and addiction," said Rouda. "We must ensure that the federal government continues to support local Drug-Free Communities coalitions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This common-sense and bipartisan bill would remove financial limitations that could prevent community-led programs from operating and saving lives during the pandemic."

“Substance abuse has wreaked havoc on thousands of people, damaged families, and devastated communities across the country. Its cost, not unlike COVID-19, can be measured in lost dreams and lost potential; in the financial and labor burdens on first responders, healthcare providers and human service organizations; and ultimately, in the tragic loss of human life,” said Budd. “Fortunately, there are community coalitions funded by the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, which — by virtue of their comprehensive, multi-sector approach to solving and addressing local drug issues — are now taking on the increased role in the COVID-19 pandemic. These coalitions are uniquely able to deal with emerging drug trends, including those posed by the pandemic, because they create data-driven, coordinated, local responses to them. That’s why I’m proud to support an initiative that will make it easier for coalitions across the country to continue their heroic efforts to reduce substance abuse.”

“While our nation fights the coronavirus pandemic, our communities are still deeply impacted by the addiction epidemic,” said House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Maloney. “Federal funding is critical to helping communities around the country fight addiction and save lives. Coalitions should not be punished by losing essential Drug-Free Communities grant funding due to the financial damage resulting from the coronavirus. I commend Congressman Rouda for introducing this bill with such strong bipartisan support and hope this bill is passed in the near future.”

“Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse is committed to driving solutions that prevent prescription drug abuse before it starts while supporting individuals in recovery as they rebuild their lives,” said former Congresswoman Mary Bono, Chairman and CEO of Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse. “The Drug-Free Communities program plays a critical role in reducing youth substance abuse across our nation. We are pleased to support this bipartisan legislation to help local coalitions continue to serve our youth throughout this ongoing pandemic.”

“The Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act is a critical piece of legislation that will provide the necessary flexibility to allow ONDCP to waive the matching requirements for Drug-Free Communities grantees who cannot raise the match due to issues related to COVID 19. CADCA is proud to support this bill and hopes it is enacted quickly to give needed relief to DFC grantee community substance use and misuse prevention coalitions that continuously work to create and maintain safe, healthy and drug-free communities,” said General Arthur T. Dean, U.S. Army, Retired, Chairman and CEO of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).

“CCAPP understands the value of prevention, and the role that Drug Free Communities play in delivering that important message. During these challenging times, our communities — and especially our youth — need to understand prevention better than ever. It is the first line of defense we have against substance use disorders, and we need to support it at every turn. We thank Mr. Rouda for his continued commitment to this issue, and count on his support well into the future,” said Pete Nielsen, CEO of the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP).

This bill is supported by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse; NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals; National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors; National Families in Action; International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium; California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals; and National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives.

As founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, Kuster works across the aisle to find solutions to help those living with substance use disorder and curb the opioid epidemic. Last month, she and her co-chairs held a virtual roundtable discussion on how to address the dual crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic.

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