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Courtney on House Passage of Opioid Bills That Does Not Include Any Timely Funding

May 16, 2016
Press Release
A bill intended to stem the growing opioid and heroin abuse epidemic was passed without appropriating a single penny of new funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) released the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed a number of bills that address the growing opioid crisis nationwide, but did so without any resources.

“There is no doubt that there are many well intentioned bipartisan initiatives in this package passed in the House today,” said Courtney. “While I am pleased that Republican leadership has finally recognized that we can no longer put off federal action to stem the growing opioid and heroin epidemic, we need them to recognize that the scale of this crisis is going to require more resources for overworked police and fire first responders, and treatment beds to cut the dangerous waiting time that families are helpless to change. Authorizing programs and task forces are only part of the comprehensive solution needed to combat this crisis. What we need to do is provide the resources and support that our communities, health officials and first responders are crying out for.

“If we had a hurricane, or a forest fire, or tornado that was ravishing parts of this country, or an attack on the homeland that took the lives of over 28,000 Americans this place would not hesitate to get resources out there to help folks respond to that type of a crisis. If there had been an attack on our country that took the number of lives that opioid and heroin abuse is taking every year - this Congress would be on fire!

“My bill, which was offered as an amendment and rejected, would provide $600 million in emergency supplemental appropriations to support drug treatment, prevention, and law enforcement, and would have a meaningful impact on this epidemic of drug abuse. I will continue to work with my colleagues to help them better understand the enormity of the crisis our local communities and first responder are facing, and I hope we will revisit this issue very soon.”

Rep. Courtney spoke on the House floor Wednesday about the pressing need to make new funding available in order to adequately address this issue

Courtney has been a leading advocate in Congress calling for federal action to address the growing drug abuse epidemic nationwide. He has:

  • Introduced companion legislation in February with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen which would provide $600 million in emergency supplemental appropriations to support drug treatment, education and prevention, and law enforcement by making grants available to local communities through the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Justice (DOJ).
  • Brought the White House Director of National Drug Control Policy, or ‘Drug Czar’, to eastern Connecticut in February to learn more from families that have experienced opioid and heroin addiction firsthand, as well as from local law enforcement officials and community activists.
  • Led a Congressional letter to President Obama in February signed by more than sixty members of the House of Representatives calling on him to designate the opioid and heroin crisis a national emergency.
  • Led another Congressional letter at the beginning of May to Speaker Paul Ryan asking that the House take up legislation which would appropriate emergency supplemental funding.
  • Introduced an amendment this week to the House opioids package that was blocked by Republican leadership.
  • Spoke on the House floor Tuesday about local Tolland resident Justice Kelly, 21, who suffered a near fatal heroin overdose in August 2015 and remain in a persistent vegetative state.