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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Working Together To End The Opioid Crisis

July 23, 2018
Weekly Columns
The country has been tangled in many debates lately that seem to create partisan divides in our daily conversations. However, it is important to note that there has been serious bipartisan work completed in Congress. Recently, the House has considered and passed multiple pieces of sweeping legislation to address one of the more pressing issues on the home front – the fight against opioid abuse and addiction.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 115 Americans die every day from an opiate overdose – that is one American every 13 minutes. In fact, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. We know the most significant contributor to this alarming fact is the misuse and abuse of opioids. Prescription drugs like oxycodone, codeine and morphine have become readily available through illegal channels and are distributed on the street without supervision from the original prescribing health professional. Addiction to these once well-intended drugs, as well as illicit use of heroin and fentanyl, have led to the deaths of over 50,000 Americans in just one year.
In the House Appropriations Committee, we understand the importance and essential role federal funding has in combating the opioid crisis. Combatting this epidemic has become one of the most significant challenges facing families and communities across our nation. Thanks to leadership from Chairman Hal Rogers, Congress has been targeting financial resources to address this crisis since 2015. This past month, the Appropriations Committee approved nearly $4 billion in the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill to combat the opioid epidemic for fiscal year 2019. This includes supporting numerous medical research and public health programs within the National Institutes of Health and CDC that are targeted toward treatment, prevention, and care for those suffering from opioid abuse. Maintaining our financial commitment is fundamental to helping this crisis turn a corner.
In addition to work done by the House Committee on Appropriations, I want to join Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in commending the efforts of Chairman Walden of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and Chairman Brady of the Committee on Ways and Means. Both Chairmen have held numerous hearings to examine the many facets of this issue. In their respective jurisdictions, they have proposed and passed through committee multiple pieces of legislation related to enforcement, prevention, education and treatment of opioid abuse. The end result has been the passage of more than 50 pieces of legislation through the House this year alone that are targeted specifically at preventing and ending the cycle of opioid abuse.
Leadership from these Committees and work from their respective members have been steadfast and critical to the ongoing efforts to reducing the prevalence of opioid addiction. Addressing this continuing epidemic is a top priority, and both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are committed to continuing to help families and communities struggling with the consequences of addiction.
Opioid abuse and addiction is not an urban issue, nor it is a rural or suburban issue – it is a national issue. The increasing rate of opioid misuse affects us all - young and old, families and friends, neighbors and co-workers. I believe that our sights are set on eliminating the hold opioid addiction has on our nation. I will continue to stand with our nation’s leader and our bipartisan, bicameral coalition of Congressional allies in their determination to ending our nation’s addiction to opioids.