Senate Dems demand Trump take action on opioids

Senate Dems demand Trump take action on opioids
© Keren Carrion

A group of Democratic senators is demanding President Trump take action to combat the opioid epidemic, nearly a month after the president declared it a national emergency.

In a letter sent Monday, Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyCBS series 'Madam Secretary' exploring 'fake news' plot Senate Dems warn against cutting ObamaCare fund to pay for children's health program Trump’s North Korea strategy requires an intervention from Congress MORE (D-Mass.) and nine other Democrats asked Trump how the administration is evaluating the emergency declaration recommendation and the steps it will take to end "the opioid use disorder and overdose crisis."

On Aug. 10, Trump said the opioid epidemic was a national emergency, but nothing has happened since. No paperwork has been issued formally declaring an emergency, and no new policies have been announced.

“Regardless of whether you choose to declare a state of emergency, continued inaction on this issue is deeply concerning,” the senators wrote.

There’s no established procedure for an emergency related to opioid abuse, which is new territory for the federal government.

The opioid epidemic is a chronic problem, and national emergencies are usually only intended to provide short-term relief.

“Your lack of action — coupled with your support of policies that would make access to substance use disorder care more difficult for millions of Americans — causes us to question your commitment to ending the opioid use disorder and overdose crisis,” the letter said.

Trump’s announcement appeared to take his staff by surprise, as Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceDems look to gain ground in Va. House of Delegates Pruitt to address trade group at luxury resort Spring promises of partnership on health-care reform are growing cold for states MORE said the administration wouldn’t declare the crisis a national emergency.

According to the White House, Trump is considering all options available to him.

“The president instructed his administration to take all appropriate and emergency measures to confront the opioid crisis. Right now these actions are undergoing a legal review,” a White House spokesman told The Hill in August.

Meanwhile, two natural disasters and the expensive recovery operations in Texas and Florida have complicated the administration’s efforts.