McMorris Rodgers: Federal officials need to detail drug overdose prevention efforts

As the nation’s opioid crisis rages, US Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is questioning the Biden administration about the nationwide increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says has reached 100,306 in March 12. Month period from April 2020 to April 2021, representing an increase of almost 29 percent compared to the deaths recorded in the same period last year.

“Congress cannot ignore these shocking numbers, especially as the Biden administration’s border policy allows fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances to cross our borders at an unprecedented rate,” wrote Rep. McMorris Rodgers and her colleague, U.S. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), January 11 letters to three senior administration officials. “We are writing to you today to request information about what has led to the dramatic increase in overdose deaths and to better understand our country’s efforts to combat our country’s opioid crisis.”

Rep. McMorris Rodgers, senior member of the US House Energy and Trade Committee, and Rep. Comer, senior member of the US House Oversight and Reform Committee, wrote that Republican members of their committees “refuse to support the Biden’s overbearing lockdowns Government idly by and mandates, ineffective economic policies, lack of border enforcement, and drug cartels destroy and take the lives of hundreds of Americans every day.”

To assist Congress in its oversight work, lawmakers required preservation of all documents and communications related to the drug crisis, all information about steps the Biden administration is taking to address the illicit drug flow, and prompt briefing by the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Rahul Gupta; U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Mangus; and Anne Milgram, Administrator at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

According to the DEA, the top threat to the U.S. drug market is illicit drug trafficking along the country’s southern border by Mexican transnational criminal organizations, lawmakers wrote, noting that the CBP seized more than 11,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl there last year, a 42 percent increase compared to the 2020 financial year.

“As illegal fentanyl flows across our borders at an unprecedented rate, the number of people suffering from depression, anxiety and trauma continues to skyrocket,” wrote Rep. McMorris Rodgers and her colleague. “The government-imposed lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated drug overdose problems in a number of ways: increased isolation, increased treatment barriers, school closures, job losses, economic instability, loss of support systems, and loss of family and friends.”

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