Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell,
Today, 78 people will die of a heroin or opioid overdose. This epidemic rages on across the United States, and local law enforcement and public health agencies are overwhelmed by need. It is our responsibility to provide them with the resources they desperately require to save lives and repair their communities. We continue to hear from leaders in law enforcement and in addiction recovery who say they are unable to provide assistance to needy residents because they lack the funds.
As you complete work on the 21st Century Cures legislation, we write to encourage you to include immediate funding to combat heroin and opioid addiction and overdose in this package. Knowing that Cures will likely be one of the final pieces of legislation that Congress acts on this year, we hope you will consider this a final opportunity to take needed action to combat this crisis.
As you know, this spring, both chambers passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, and while it authorizes important efforts to improve treatment for addiction and respond to the crisis, it lacks any funding to support these programs. During conference discussions for CARA, representations were made from the Majority chairs in both chambers that funds would be appropriated in FY2017. H.R. 4447, which has 40 House cosponsors, provides a solid framework for these necessary resources. We continue to fervently support appropriating additional emergency funds to aid this effort and support the goals of CARA.
It is crucial that we treat the opioid epidemic like the emergency that it is, and ensure that those responding to the crisis have the resources they need now. We cannot sit idly by any longer as family after family is torn apart by an unnecessary tragedy while skilled officials are standing at the ready to intervene. We have the ability and obligation to provide them with the resources they need. Please take this opportunity to provide immediate funding to combat the opioid addiction and overdose crisis that continues to devastate American communities.