Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

House Approves Landmark Anti-Drug Bill

May 12, 2016
Press Release
Historic Funding for Education, Prevention and Treatment

Bill, Co-Sponsored by Buchanan, is Centerpiece of 18-Bill Package

WASHINGTON — Sweeping legislation aimed at combating the heroin and drug abuse crisis passed the U.S. House today with overwhelming bipartisan support.

At the heart of an 18-bill anti-drug legislative package passed this week is the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, co-sponsored by Buchanan, which provides over $500 million in funding to states and local communities for education, prevention and treatment programs.

“Every day we delay acting to curb this deadly crisis more of our loved ones are lost,” Buchanan said. “It’s time for Congress to put partisanship aside and send this package to the president’s desk.”

House passage of the legislation marked a significant milestone in a months-long effort by Buchanan to confront the growing heroin epidemic. Nationally, 125 Americans die from drug overdoses each day according to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Florida increased 900 percent from 2010-2014, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. 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.

The legislative package will go to a House-Senate conference committee to reconcile differences between the two versions.

Buchanan said he’s optimistic Congress will come to agreement and send the package to the president.

The anti-drug bills would:  

  • Provide grants for treatment and prevention to states, nonprofits, and municipalities.
  • Address drug interdiction by targeting drug traffickers and cutting off the flow of drugs entering the U.S.
  • Deliver treatment to pregnant mothers and babies born addicted to opioids.
  • Create a task force responsible for reviewing federal guidelines for prescribing opioids.
  • Prevent the over-prescription of painkillers for veterans seeking care from the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense by re-examining current pain management treatment guidelines.
  • Create veterans-specific drug treatment courts and programs.
  • Require the government to evaluate the effectiveness of federal grant programs tasked with curbing the heroin and opioid crisis.

The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the heroin crisis in Florida. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and stakeholders. Buchanan also recently chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington where members heard testimony from Rep. Sensenbrenner, author of H.R. 5046, and anti-drug experts.

Buchanan has also been at the forefront of the fight to crack down on drug abuse for years. 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.