WH Seeks Funding To Mitigate Harms of Dangerous Drugs

The White House last Monday urged Congress to pass additional funding for the treatment of opioid addiction and to crack down on drug trafficking, The Hill reported.

To make the case for further funding, the White House cited data from the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health released last week that showed over 48 million Americans suffered from addiction last year but only 1 in 4 received treatment.

According to White House’s Drug Policy Director Rahul Gupta, while there has been progress in the number of overdose deaths in 2022 and 2023 compared to the previous three years, there is still “a long way to go.”

Gupta described the opioid crisis in the United States as a “historic and unprecedented epidemic” that “requires historic and unprecedented funding.”

Last month, the Biden administration requested over $1.2 billion in funding to crack down on the trafficking of illegal drugs like fentanyl and another $1.55 bill to expand treatment for opioid addiction and fund harm reduction programs through State Opioid Response grants.

In a statement last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra called on Congress to “do its part” and pass the president’s emergency supplemental budget that includes “critical funds” for addressing the “overdose crisis.”

In 2018, Congress passed the SUPPORT Act which provided $20 billion in funding for opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery. However, the funding expired on September 30.

In July, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed a limited version of a bill to reauthorize the SUPPORT Act. However, the Senate Health Committee has yet to schedule a hearing or a markup of the reauthorization bill.

Health Committee Chairman Senator Bernie Sanders previously said he wanted to include opioid funding in a year-end bill. However, the committee’s ranking Republican, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, earlier this year introduced his version of a bill separately reauthorizing the SUPPORT Act and has been pushing Senator Sanders to hold a hearing and markup on the measure.