WASHINGTON – A sweeping addiction recovery bill aimed at addressing the nation’s growing heroin and opioid addiction epidemic led through the Senate by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa has been signed into law. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) also includes a number of provisions crafted by Grassley to assist in the fight against methamphetamine, which is a significant problem in Iowa.
“I hear stories from Iowans across the state about the devastating impact that illegal drugs have taken on their hometowns. In many parts of the nation, it’s being driven by abuse of prescription opioids and cheap, but deadly heroin. And in Iowa, meth continues to destroy families. This bipartisan bill takes a multipronged approach to face drug addiction head-on through increased prevention, education, treatment, recovery and law enforcement efforts,” Grassley said.
More than 250 addiction, recovery and law enforcement organizations, including a dozen in Iowa, called this bill “The critical response we need.” The New York Times called it “The most sweeping drug legislation in years.”
To highlight the continued methamphetamine abuse in Iowa, last year, Grassley convened a Judiciary Committee field hearing in Des Moines to examine how best to combat meth abuse. In January, Grassley held a hearing on the growing opioid and heroin epidemic sweeping the nation, including some parts of Iowa. Grassley then worked with a bipartisan group of senators on legislation to address drug addiction. He led the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act through the Judiciary Committee in February and the full Senate in March. Grassley then led a Senate delegation in a bicameral conference committee to merge CARA with a package of bills that passed in the House of Representatives. The following day, the House passed the final CARA conference report by a vote of 407-5. The Senate cleared the final conference report by a vote of 92-2.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act authorizes nearly $900 million over five years to enhance prevention, education treatment, recovery and law enforcement efforts. The current Senate appropriations bills are poised to more than double funding for this epidemic since Republicans took control of the Senate. As funding for this crisis continues to rise, CARA will serve as the blueprint for how to attack the scourge of addiction.
Grassley worked to include several provisions to meet the unique needs of communities like many in Iowa in their battle against opioid and meth addiction. Specifically, Grassley worked to reserve a fixed portion of resources to improve first responders’ access to overdose-reversal medication in rural areas, like much of Iowa, where emergency services can be limited. Grassley also secured eligibility for new grants created by the bill for areas like Iowa that are suffering from local drug crises related to methamphetamine, in addition to opioids. CARA also includes Grassley’s Kingpin Designation Improvement Act, which boosts law enforcement’s ability to freeze the assets of international drug cartels that are often the source of heroin and meth in the United States.
The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act is the 11th bill reported out of the Judiciary Committee under Grassley’s leadership to become law. In the previous Congress, only five bills reported out of the committee were signed into law.