Heroin Task Force presses Congress for more funding to fight opioid epidemic

Heroin Task Force presses Congress for more funding to fight opioid epidemic

The Bipartisan Heroin Task Force is calling on congressional leaders to funnel more federal dollars into combating the opioid epidemic, which now causes more deaths per year than car accidents.

In October, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency — a move the administration recently extended for another 90 days. Advocates have expressed concern the declaration hasn’t had much of an impact, adding that more funding is needed for it to be effective.

The task force called for more funding in a Friday letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Appropriations Committee.

“We urge you to include additional funding in support of the President's public health emergency declaration as part of ongoing negotiations to complete the fiscal year 2018 federal budget,” the group wrote.


“Additionally, we request consideration of supplemental appropriations as part of any continuing resolution considered by Congress. It is vital that stakeholders working tirelessly to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic receive additional resources as soon as possible.”

The heroin task force’s legislative agenda also includes over 15 bills, two of which have been signed into law.

Lawmakers face another government shutdown deadline next week and are expected to pass a continuing resolution into March as negotiations continue on a larger funding bill.

Democrats have said for months that more money to fight the opioid epidemic is a top priority in any larger spending package. Senate Democrats introduced a bill to appropriate $25 billion over two years to curb the crisis of deaths from prescription painkillers and heroin gripping the country.

The rate of deaths from opioid overdoses increased nearly 28 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Tuesday, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule GOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial MORE (R-Mo.) — who chairs the chamber’s health appropriations subcommittee — suggested more resources were needed.

His counterpart on the House side, Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeNew hemp trade group presses lawmakers on immigration reform, regs Bottom Line Juan Williams: Republicans flee Trump MORE (R-Okla.), has also said adding more dollars to the opioid epidemic could be on the table in negotiating a larger spending deal.

This post was updated at 4:38 p.m.