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Courtney Demands Congressional Action to Stem Growing Opioid and Heroin Abuse Epidemic During Floor Speech

February 29, 2016
Press Release
With the Senate set to begin debate tonight on the Shaheen/Courtney emergency funding bill, Rep. Courtney took to the House floor to implore Congress to take action before more lives are lost

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) delivered a speech on the House floor calling for Congressional action to curb the growing prescription opioid and heroin abuse problem nationwide. His remarks come ahead of debate on S.2423 introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the Senate companion to his bill, the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act.

“The Centers for Disease Control tells us that in 2014, 27,000 Americans suffered accidental overdose deaths across the country - a drastic increase from 2013,” said Courtney. “And this trend is happening again all across the country. In the state of Connecticut, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported its statistics for 2015, which showed that 723 individuals lost their lives. So we are in the midst right now of a problem that is sweeping across the country that is affecting states that are Republican and Democrat, Blue and Red, and we as a Nation need to get all hands on deck and come to grips with it.

“The fact of the matter is that the willingness is there but the resources are not, to deal with a problem of this magnitude. Let’s pass the Shaheen-Courtney measure, let’s get emergency funding to the folks who need that help, who are ready, and they are on standby. They are there to help those families and those individuals who need the help that we as Americans should come together and support.”

The Senate will begin procedures this evening to debate S.524/HR. 953, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, and will consider S.2423 as an amendment to the larger bill.

Courtney’s bill, the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, would authorize $600 million dollars in emergency funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fund a range of programs aimed at treating the public health emergency brought on by drug addiction, as well as funding law enforcement efforts to end the illegal drug trade. The legislation makes grants available to states to assist in the coordination and improvement of already-existing substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. The bill currently has 19 cosponsors in the House.