The leaders of a bipartisan task force focused on heroin and opiate addiction urged President Trump to follow through on his pledge to declare a national emergency on opioid addiction, which would allow federal funds to be deployed quickly on combating the deadly epidemic.
Reps. Donald Norcross (D-1) and Tom MacArthur (R-3), along with Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) and Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), sent a letter to Trump on Friday urging Trump to declare the emergency.
“This crisis has hit countless communities across the country and it leaves no demographic untouched,” they wrote. “Virtually every one of our constituents has a family member or knows a friend who has suffered from the perils of opioid addiction. A national emergency declaration could provide the federal government additional tools it could use to help communities across the country grapple with this disease.”
Gov. Chris Christie, who was appointed by Trump to lead a separate task force on opioid addiction, first made the recommendation to declare an emergency in August, but the president has yet to act on it despite saying he supports the idea.
Trump said Monday that an official designation of a national emergency would come next week, a statement that allegedly left advisors scrambling to come up with a last-minute plan, according to Politico. Christie said recently that he was told by the White House that lawyers were conducting an extensive “legal review,” hence the delays. But according to Politico, the cost of declaring the emergency and “infighting” among White House officials also have been obstacles.
Christie was in Washington on Friday for a meeting of Trump’s opioid commission, but there was no announcement about a national emergency as of Friday evening.
“We urge you to work with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to advance emergency supplemental funding as well as legislative proposals similar to those proposed in our legislative agenda and your own Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis findings,” Fitzpatrick, Kuster, Norcross and MacArthur wrote Friday, lending support for the ideas from Christie’s commission.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the number of national opiate and heroin-related dealths at over 60,000 in 2016.
“You can’t get those two months back,” Christie said at a news conference last week when asked about the two-month delay since Trump first said he would declare an emergency. “So it’s not good that it hasn’t been done yet.”