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. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump 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.

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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 PriceOvernight Health Care: CEO of largest private health insurer slams 'Medicare for All' plans | Dem bill targets youth tobacco use | CVS fined over fake painkiller prescriptions | Trump, first lady to discuss opioid crisis at summit HHS inspector general stepping down from watchdog role Ex-GOP lawmaker Handel to run for her former Georgia seat in 2020 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.