Markey joins Warren, Senate Coalition in Urging Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan to Focus on Funding for Opioid Crisis and Medical Research in Government Spending Bill

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led a group of 17 senators calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to include a substantial increase in funds for the fight against the nation's opioid epidemic and additional investments in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as part of the Continuing Resolution currently being negotiated in Congress to avert a government shutdown. The letter was signed by Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

"While past Congresses have made promises about providing states with additional funding to address the ongoing opioid crisis, appropriations legislation like the pending budget deal is where the bill comes due. Americans are counting on Congress to live up to its commitments by supporting funding for the priorities that matter most in their lives," wrote the senators. "Funding to fight the opioid epidemic and support research into lifesaving cures through the NIH rank at the top of this list, and we urge you to include substantial additional funding for these areas in the appropriations legislation now being negotiated."

The senators asked for additional resources to address the nation's opioid crisis, particularly those communities which have been hit hardest by the epidemic, noting that only ten percent of people with substance abuse disorder receive specialty treatment due in large part to lack of funding for services. 

 

The senators also called for increased investment in the NIH to support continued biomedical research, citing the institute's critical role in discovering cures for life-threatening diseases and its numerous, valuable contributions to science.

 

Full text of the letter is available below. 

 

April 26, 2017

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan,

 

As negotiations over the latest stopgap government funding measure continue, we urge you to focus on securing substantial funding in the appropriations legislation currently being negotiated for two of our most essential national priorities: fighting the opioid epidemic and investing in our nation's biomedical research programs.

 

Every day, 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose, and despite the tireless work of many in our communities, this public health epidemic is only getting worse. Currently, only 10 percent of individuals who need specialty treatment for substance use disorder actually get it - not because we don't know how to help, but in large part because there aren't enough funds to provide these services. We need substantial additional resources to fight this epidemic and fund prevention, treatment, and recovery activities.

 

It is also essential that we increase our investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), our nation's premier research institution. NIH funding supports innovative, cutting-edge research that plays a critical role in the development of lifesaving cures for diseases. Our ability to fight Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and many other diseases depends on our willingness to invest in science. While investments in the NIH have consistently produced tremendous value, funding for the NIH has failed to keep pace with inflation over the last several decades. 

It is essential to provide new funding to fight the opioid epidemic and support biomedical research at the NIH.  This new funding should not fill in for cuts made elsewhere to opioid and NIH funding. It is also essential that opioid funding be distributed to the communities that need it most and that have been hardest hit by this terrible public health epidemic.

 

While past Congresses have made promises about providing states with additional funding to address the ongoing opioid crisis, appropriations legislation like the pending budget deal is where the bill comes due. 

 

Americans are counting on Congress to live up to its commitments by supporting funding for the priorities that matter most in their lives. Funding to fight the opioid epidemic and support research into lifesaving cures through the NIH rank at the top of this list, and we urge you to include substantial additional funding for these areas in the appropriations legislation now being negotiated.

 

Sincerely,