Opioid Fight Remains Top Priority
So we’re proud of what we accomplished a year ago…But we know all too well that, unfortunately, this work is far from finished. This fight has been one of my top priorities since I became Majority Leader. We’ve put cutting-edge tools into the hands of health-care professionals and first responders who face this crisis every day. In my state alone, I helped secure an unprecedented $200 million to address the urgent crisis facing Kentuckians.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor marking the one-year anniversary of President Trump signing into law landmark opioid legislation:
“Too many times, I’ve had to come to this floor to speak about the pain inflicted on families and entire communities by opioid addiction and substance abuse. It’s a crisis present in every ZIP code. One that has wrecked lives throughout the country.
“My home state of Kentucky has been hit particularly hard. But I am relieved to say, we’re seeing glimmers of hope on the horizon.
“This past summer brought news of the first nationwide decrease in overdose fatalities in almost three decades. Kentucky saw a nearly 15 percent drop. After so much suffering, an indication that the tide may be starting to turn. This result has been hard-won, after years of coordinated efforts between states, localities, and Washington D.C. It’s been a nationwide response, and we in Congress -- along with the Trump administration -- have been focused on doing our part.
“Today marks the one-year anniversary of one key part of our ongoing efforts. One year ago today, President Trump signed into law our landmark opioid legislation that will hopefully spare more families from the pain of addiction.
“This legislation included work from five different committees and 70 Senators. Thanks to Chairman Lamar Alexander and so many of our colleagues, this significant package focused on providing innovative solutions, promoting long-term recovery, and empowering the local leaders and first responders on the front lines. And a little more than a year ago, it passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“I’m proud that two of my own bills were included in the package. The Protecting Moms and Infant Act safeguards the youngest victims of the addiction crisis from its heartbreaking consequences. And the CAREER Act addresses the major role that stable employment plays in long-term recovery.
“It encourages treatment facilities to form partnerships with local businesses and short-term housing facilities to ‘hand-up’ to those who need it.
“So we’re proud of what we accomplished a year ago. And I’m proud that my Kentucky colleague, Rep. Barr, is leading the push for the CAREER Act’s companion legislation in the House.
“But we know all too well that, unfortunately, this work is far from finished. That’s why this very week, the Senate is moving forward $25 million more for the CAREER Act’s transitional housing pilot program in the domestic appropriations we’ve advanced on the floor.
“And the work will not stop there. This fight has been one of my top priorities since I became Majority Leader. We’ve put cutting-edge tools into the hands of health-care professionals and first responders who face this crisis every day.
“In my state alone, I helped secure an unprecedented $200 million to address the urgent crisis facing Kentuckians. A funding increase of more than 400% on this issue for Kentucky since I became Majority Leader.
“We’ve committed to a comprehensive strategy of prevention, treatment, and enforcement efforts. At my invitation, the White House Drug Czar Jim Carroll saw some of Kentucky’s innovative leadership firsthand when he visited in April.
“And, we’ve pushed the boundaries of research to find new ways to treat addiction and help families escape its painful consequences.
“Earlier this month, I joined Secretary Azar, NIH Director Collins, and an all-star research team at the University of Kentucky to celebrate the largest federal grant in the school’s history. These new resources will fuel UK’s bold commitment to cutting overdose deaths by 40 percent in 16 counties over the coming three years, and I was proud to help secure them.
“Kentucky is proud that we are leading the national response. But I know my colleagues each have their own inspiring stories of how their states are fighting back.
“As I said, the work is far from over. But today, we take a moment to celebrate the progress of the past year. To help mark this anniversary, the First Lady of the United States joined us here in the Senate yesterday. I’m proud to stand with her, the Trump administration, and my colleagues in this body as we recommit ourselves to this effort.
“This anniversary also reminds us of how many urgent issues are crying out for substantive, bipartisan, bicameral cooperation for the good of the American people.
“I’m talking about funding our armed forces and the Department of Defense, just as both sides agreed to do back in the summer when we signed onto the bipartisan, bicameral budget agreement that Democrats have lately wandered away from.
“I’m talking about passing the USMCA, the most consequential update to North American trade policy in a generation, which Speaker Pelosi has put on ice in order to move Democrats’ impeachment obsession to the front burner. Despite the fact that there are 176,000 new American jobs on the line.
“The needs of the American people have not been put on pause just because Washington Democrats have decided it doesn’t suit them to get along with the White House.
“My friends in Democratic leadership insist over and over that their focus on undoing the 2016 election will not keep them from the substantive legislation that American families need.
“Well, our armed forces are still waiting for their funding. Our workers and small businesses are still waiting on their new trade agreement.
“Our Senate Democratic colleagues have enough time to push partisan resolutions, like their effort yesterday to enact a new tax cut for wealthy people in blue states like New York and New Jersey at the expense of working families everywhere else. But so far, we’ve seen little indication they’re really ready to put our differences aside and come to the table on significant, bipartisan subjects that can actually become law.
“I worry that something like the landmark opioid package that we’re celebrating today would not move through the Congress today, just one year later. I worry it would have been another victim of Democrats’ decision to avoid working with Republicans and the White House on basically anything, to keep all their focus trained on impeachment.
“But I hope I’m mistaken. I hope we make real progress soon. Because the American people are waiting.”
Related Issues: Taxes, Opioid Abuse, Jobs