WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation negotiated by House and Senate lawmakers to address the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. The conference report for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which combines proposals from both chambers, was agreed to by a vote of 407-5.
“Opioid and heroin addiction is a growing epidemic in our nation. Drug overdoses claim more than 129 lives each day. I’ve made it a priority to move forward bipartisan legislation to face this crisis head on through expanded prevention, education, treatment, recovery and law enforcement efforts. Throughout this process, I’ve also pushed to include provisions to assist in the fight against methamphetamine, which has been a prominent and destructive drug in communities across Iowa.
“This week has been an important one in the fight against the addiction crisis in America. On Wednesday, a bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers hammered out the differences between a number of bills aimed at addressing the spread of opioid addiction, and this morning, the full House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to move the package one step closer to becoming law. It’s now time for the Senate to take up and pass this life-saving legislation, as it did with a similar proposal earlier this year, to equip communities across the country with the tools needed to fight back against addiction.”
Earlier this week, Grassley led the Senate delegation in a bicameral conference committee meeting to finalize the conference report for S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which he guided through the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate earlier this year by a vote of 94-1. The Senate must now pass the conference report.
The conference report includes several provisions championed by Grassley to assist rural communities like much of Iowa, including reserved funding to train first responders in rural America to administer live-saving opioid overdose reversal medication. In addition, the conference report includes Grassley-authored accountability provisions to ensure that waste, fraud, and abuse of federal grant money is rooted out, as well as the Kingpin Designation Improvement Act, legislation introduced in the Senate by Grassley and Senator Amy Klobuchar that strengthens the ability of the federal government to freeze the assets of foreign drug kingpins, who traffic opioids, methamphetamine and other illegal narcotics into the United States. Finally, the report retains language negotiated by Grassley and included in Senate-passed CARA that extends eligibility for new community-based coalition enhancement grants to areas like Iowa that are suffering from local drug crises related to methamphetamine, in addition to opioids.