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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Courtney Leads More than Fifty House Members Urging Speaker Ryan to Consider Emergency Funding to Address Opioid and Heroin Epidemic

May 4, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) sent a letter signed by fifty-three members of the House of Representatives, including all five Connecticut House members, calling on Speaker Paul Ryan to take up legislation that would provide $600 million dollars in emergency supplemental appropriations to fight back against growing prescription opioid and heroin abuse. Courtney has introduced the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 4447) along with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would authorize that amount in order 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.

“One of the most urgent requests we have heard from law enforcement officers, public health officials, and community leaders is for funding to address this growing epidemic,” wrote the members. “We must treat this problem like the emergency that it is, and give those responding to the crisis the tools, support and resources they need right now.

“…We hope that the House will be allowed to consider an emergency supplemental appropriations measure, supported by House Democratic Leadership, that will provide $600 million immediately toward the opioid crisis as an urgent, first-step investment, while recognizing that more will be needed moving forward.”

The full text of the letter is available below and here:

May 4, 2016

The Honorable Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House

H-232, U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan:

As leaders from states and districts hit hard by the opioid and heroin public health crisis that has killed tens of thousands of Americans over the past few years, we applaud your announcement that the House will consider legislation on this topic over the next few weeks. The urgency of this matter is clear. According to a study released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people died of drug overdoses in 2014 than any year before, putting the drug overdose mortality number to over 47,055. Citing the same study, sixty one percent of those deaths – 28,647 people – died in opioid-related overdoses.

Last month, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (S.524/HR 953), by an overwhelmingly bipartisan margin. Now, this legislation awaits consideration by the House. Among other things, CARA expands education and prevention, increases access to the life-saving drug naloxone through law enforcement and first responders, adds disposal sites, improves access to treatment and intervention, and strengthens prescription drug monitoring programs. House-drafted provisions similar to the Senate-passed CARA provisions, along with many other bipartisan proposals that have been offered, deserve action in the House without delay.

However, this type of House package is only one piece of a comprehensive approach to this crisis that must also include boosting resources in the near term to help communities and families struggling with the impacts of addiction. One of the most urgent requests we have heard from law enforcement officers, public health officials, and community leaders is for funding to address this growing epidemic. We must treat this problem like the emergency that it is, and give those responding to the crisis the tools, support and resources they need right now. To this end, we hope that the House will be allowed to consider an emergency supplemental appropriations measure, supported by House Democratic Leadership, that will provide $600 million immediately toward the opioid crisis as an urgent, first-step investment, while recognizing that more will be needed moving forward.

Addiction does not differentiate between race, gender, wealthy or poor, urban or rural, red or blue. We urge you to lead your caucus to do the right thing by addressing this crisis as we would any other public health emergency. We cannot afford to play politics with this epidemic. We must take immediate steps to quell this crisis now through authorizations and emergency appropriations.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Joe Courtney

Alma Adams

Donald S. Beyer Jr.

Earl Blumenauer

Suzanne Bonamici

Kathy Castor

David Cicilline

Katherine Clark

Yvette Clark

Steve Cohen

John Conyers

Susan Davis

Diana Degette

Rosa Delauro

Mark DeSaulnier

Tammy Duckworth

Elizabeth Esty

Lois Frankel

John Garamendi

Alan Grayson

Alcee L. Hastings

Jim Himes

Bill Keating

Ann McLane Kuster

Jim Langevin

John B. Larson

Sander M. Levin

John Lewis

Dave Loebsack

Stephen Lynch

Doris Matsui

James P. McGovern

Jerry McNerney

Seth Moulton

Richard Neal

Donald Norcross

Frank Pallone

Ed Perlmutter

Chellie Pingree

Mark Pocan

Kathleen Rice

Tim Ryan

Linda Sanchez

John P. Sarbanes

Jan Schakowsky

Bobby Scott

Louise Slaughter

Eric Swalwell

Paul Tonko

Niki Tsongas

Chris Van Hollen

Peter Welch

John Yarmuth

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