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Engel: We Could Do More to Combat Opioid Crisis

Engel: We Could Do More to Combat Opioid Crisis


Washington D.C.-Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made the following statement on the House floor during debate on the House Amendment to S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016.

As prepared for delivery:

“Mr. Speaker: my heart goes out to the thousands of American families affected by the opioid epidemic.

“I’m pleased the House has worked in a bipartisan manner to address this crisis. However, we could be doing more.

“The prescription opioid death rate has more than quadrupled since the late 1990s. In 2014, prescription opioids played a role in more than 28,000 overdose deaths.

“We must equip our communities with the resources needed to reverse these trends. Yes, authorizing new grant programs, reports and studies is an important step. But without new funding, communities won’t be able to fully implement these initiatives.

“On Wednesday, the Majority blocked a Democratic substitute opioids package, which would have provided $600 million – paid for, I might add – to fund the initiatives we’ve considered this week.

“I understand the need to get our fiscal house in order. But I don’t understand the impulse to do so on the backs of the millions of Americans grappling with opioid abuse.

“This epidemic does not discriminate. It has touched every corner of our nation, from my hometown of New York City to the shores of the Pacific.

“So many Americans have already felt its impact – we need to do everything we can to keep it from impacting more of our families, our friends, our constituents.

Thank you, I yield back.”

Background

The House approved several bills aimed at combatting the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis.  The House Amendment to S. 524 bundles those individual bills together into a single package. While this package authorized funding that would help communities carry out the bill’s outlined initiatives, the House failed to actually allocate those dollars.