Bipartisan Opioid Task Force Announces 2020 Legislative Agenda
Washington, DC, February 27, 2020
**Bipartisan agenda outlines comprehensive approach to tackling the opioid epidemic**
**The entire agenda can be viewed HERE**
**The press conference can be viewed HERE**
Today, the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force led by Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), unveiled the Task Force’s 2020 legislative agenda to respond to the opioid and substance misuse epidemic. The agenda outlines commonsense, bipartisan legislation that would address the opioid epidemic by bolstering prevention, treatment and recovery, and law enforcement efforts. The agenda also takes on the criminal justice and economic hurdles that have contributed to the growth of the crisis. The full legislative agenda is available HERE.
The Bipartisan Opioid Task Force has been an effective driver of legislative solutions to take on the opioid epidemic. Several bills in the Task Force’s 2018 legislative agenda including Kuster’s legislation the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act, the STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act, and the INTERDICT Act were passed and signed into law. Representatives Donald Norcross (D-NJ), David Joyce (R-OH), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Jim Baird (R-IN), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Conor Lamb (D-PA), and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) joined the co-chairs at the press conference to speak in support of the agenda.
“The Bipartisan Opioid Task Force has been a driver of congressional action to combat the substance abuse crisis that has hit every corner of our country,” said Kuster, the founder and Democratic leader of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force. “Today we unveiled an ambitious slate of legislation that would significantly bolster our response to our nation’s evolving addiction crisis. I am proud that my bill to end the cycle of addiction and incarceration, the Humane Correctional Health Care Act, will be included in our legislative hearing next week in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Every bill in our agenda is bipartisan, and many will be included in the hearing on Tuesday. Our agenda tackles underlying challenges in our criminal justice and economic systems that have contributed to this crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance our agenda and bolster prevention efforts, access to long-term treatment and recovery, and support interdiction and law enforcement.”
“Thank you to everyone who took the time to come to today’s event. Opioid abuse and addiction knows no race, gender, geography, or politics, and that was evident at our press conference,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick, the Republican leader of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force. “The opioid crisis is a national health emergency, and we owe it to our constituents to do everything we can to help them. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on the task force, and I encourage every member to take a serious look at the great work we are doing.”
A number of the bills within the agenda, including the Humane Correctional Health Care Act, which Rep. Kuster introduced alongside Senator Cory Booker this past summer, will be included in a legislative hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health next week. All of the bills in this agenda are bipartisan. Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated for robust funding to tackle this serious public health crisis and helped advance more than $5 billion in opioid funding in December. Kuster pushed SAMHSA to adjust its funding formula to ensure that New Hampshire received a significant increase in resources. Along with New Hampshire Delegation, Kuster helped the state receive a total of nearly $35 million in State Opioid Response (SOR) grants in FY 2019.
Last month, Kuster led House passage of legislation that will extend the DEA’s temporary order making fentanyl-related substances Schedule I. She is the sponsor of the Respond NOW Act and the Turn the Tide Act, which would provide critical resources to those on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic.