Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Calls for Swift House Passage of Anti-Heroin Legislation

Mar 14, 2016
Press Release
Letter Urges Judiciary Chairman to Take Up CARA Bill

“We Can’t Afford to Wait: 125 Americans Die Every Day from Drug Overdose”

WASHINGTON — On the heels of Senate passage of a major anti-drug bill, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today urged the House Judiciary Chairman to bring similar legislation to the floor for House consideration. Buchanan, a co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), said the legislation was needed to address a growing crisis of heroin and opioid abuse.

In a letter to Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, (R-VA),  Buchanan called for the Committee to send CARA (H.R. 953) to the floor for passage. Buchanan said he was convinced the House would approve the measure given the severity of the heroin and opioid crisis taking place throughout America.

Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County had more heroin overdose deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014.

“Congress should recognize the severity of this problem and devote meaningful resources to address it,” Buchanan said.

Citing how the heroin and drug abuse crisis has spread across the country, Buchanan said he also will be speaking with House leaders this week to urge swift consideration of CARA. The Senate approved its version of the bill last week by an overwhelming majority. Nationally, 125 Americans die from drug overdoses each day.

“We can’t turn a blind eye to this emergency, which has impacted far too many people and overwhelmed our communities,” Buchanan said. “Friends, families, and neighbors are pleading for Congress to step in.”

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Florida increased nine-fold, from 48 to 447, from 2010-2014, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. Spiking heroin use rates are being driven by a “one-two punch” of cheap, available heroin and prescription narcotic abuse, according to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

The sheriffs of Manatee and Sarasota Counties, as well as prominent area substance abuse professionals, have expressed support for the legislative approach Buchanan is taking, which includes strong backing for CARA.

Key components of CARA include:

• Funding for state, local, and non-profit drug education efforts for teens and seniors. 

• Providing grants for treatment and prevention to states, nonprofits, and municipalities.

• Creating new veterans-specific drug treatment courts.

Buchanan is also a cosponsor of the STOP Abuse Act (H.R. 3719), which includes anti-heroin grants and would bolster anti-drug trafficking efforts.

For years, Buchanan has been a leader in the fight to crack down on prescription drug abuse. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.