Courtney Scolds House Leadership for Considering Opioid Legislation That Does Not 'Provide a Penny' of New Funding
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) appeared on the House floor to demand that any legislation intended to address the rising prescription opioid and heroin epidemic must include new funding, rather than simply shifting around existing resources and simply authorizing unfunded programs. Courtney offered his bill, the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, HR 4447, which would provide $600 million in emergency supplemental appropriations as an amendment to the larger package, but it was rejected outright by the Rules Committee and GOP leadership.
Excerpts from Courtney’s floor speech this morning:
“Today, there will be votes and a lot of self-congratulatory rhetoric about the fact that we are moving on something, but remember: there is not a penny for law enforcement, for treatment, or for prevention and education. Until we do that, we are kidding ourselves that we are going to turn this alarming, disturbing trend around.
“We have an epidemic in this country which far surpasses any challenge presented by a natural disaster. If we had an attack on the homeland that took the number of lives that these maps represent – this Congress would be on fire!
“To be clear, there is not a penny in either of these measures to help law enforcement, the police and fire who are responding to these crises day in, and day out. There is not a penny for treatment beds, for detox for long-term care treatment. In Connecticut, it takes 4-6 months to get into treatment. And there is not a penny for education.
“If we had a hurricane, or a forest fire, or tornado that was ravishing parts of this country, or an attack on the homeland, this place would not hesitate on getting resources out there to help folks respond to that type of a crisis. Yet, somehow we can turn a blind eye to the thousands of Americans who are suffering from some type of addiction, to the thousands of law enforcement and fire personnel who are responding to these calls as we speak right now.”