(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Last week, Congressmen Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Paul Mitchell (R-MI), and Keith Rothfus (R-PA), introduced legislation to authorize, develop, and implement a coordinated tracking system for federally-funded initiatives and grant programs dealing with opioid and substance abuse. This was in response to the President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis’ recommendation that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), “…establish a coordinated system for tracking all federally-funded initiatives, through support from HHS and DOJ.”
Congressmen Raskin and Mitchell, both members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, offered a bipartisan amendment to H.R. 5925, the CRISIS Act, to establish a system to closely track all grants on opioid abuse and institute evidence-based decision-making to guarantee the most effective programs are funded. This amendment was unanimously passed in committee.
Congressman Rothfus introduced H.R.5980, the CODE RED (Coordinated Overdose and Drug Epidemic Response to the Emergency Declaration) Act, which directs ONDCP to develop a coordinated tracking system, as well as directs ONDCP to:
- Identify metrics and achievable goals for grant recipients to measure the success of each federal initiative, and to increase accountability.
- Develop a plan for standardizing various drug control grant applications into a joint application to streamline the process, further easing burdens on the state and local applicants.
- Maintain a centralized, public portal where all federal drug control grant award opportunities will be listed.
- Study the feasibility of block grants to states and report to Congress.
“The opioid crisis we’re facing requires immediate and commonsense solutions,” said Raskin. “I’m delighted the Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan Amendment I offered with Rep. Mitchell to closely track all grants on opioid abuse and to institute evidence-based decision-making to guarantee the most effective programs are funded. We should be using every tool at our disposal to combat the ongoing epidemic – from improving access to treatment, to investing in prevention, to protecting access to health insurance coverage.”
“As the opioid crisis ravages our nation— claiming more lives than car accidents— our government must coordinate its efforts to fight this issue head on,” said Mitchell. “Taking the steps outlined in the President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis’ guidance is a strong first step in increasing oversight and accountability of the opioid crisis response while reducing administrative burden and accelerating care to those suffering. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight the opioid crisis and protect families back home.”
“The opioid epidemic still plagues our nation, including my home district in Western Pennsylvania. The CODE RED Act will provide additional reforms to the Office of National Drug Control Policy through greater coordination, efficiency, and accountability of federal grant programs combatting the epidemic,” said Rothfus. “I am proud to work with Representatives Mitchell and Raskin in a bipartisan manner on the CODE RED Act. Through their work on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform with Chairman Gowdy and Ranking Member Cummings, the Office of National Drug Control Policy will hopefully be reauthorized for the first time in over a decade with some needed overhauls. I look forward to working with them on developing more ways to end the national drug crisis.”