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Danbury's Esty Moves To Fund Efforts To Combat Opioid Epidemic

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty is urging lawmakers to take action to combat opioid abuse.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty is urging lawmakers to take action to combat opioid abuse. Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5th District) offered a motion on the House floor Friday instructing Congress to prioritize addiction prevention, treatment and recovery in upcoming opioid-addiction legislation.

Esty demanded that the House and Senate provide funding for efforts to combat the opioid addiction crisis as the two chambers revise opioid-related bills and send a final legislative package to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Esty represents the 5th District, which encompasses much of northeastern Connecticut, including Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, Newtown and Sherman.

The House has passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which combines 18 bills to fight opioid addiction into a single legislative package, while the Senate passed its own version of the legislation in March.

Neither bill, however, includes funding for initiatives to prevent addiction or assist families impacted by the epidemic, which Esty has called for repeatedly.

“Families, health care workers, and local leaders throughout Connecticut simply don’t have the resources they need today to fight this terrible epidemic,” Esty said. “While the House and Senate have taken an important step by passing new initiatives to help our communities deal with this crisis, it will all amount to very little if Congress never provides the resources necessary to get these initiatives off the ground.

“Community leaders like New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell are doing an exemplary job helping their neighbors through this crisis with the limited resources they have, and it’s time for Congress to step up and do its part. We need federal funding to help families avoid addiction in the first place and prevent this epidemic from taking more lives.”

A conference committee comprised of members of both the House and Senate will meet in the coming weeks to combine the House- and Senate-passed legislation into a single bill.

Last week, the House passed an amendment authored by Esty and Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.) adding provisions to improve physician and consumer education on addiction-prevention strategies to the House package.

The Senate package that passed in March included a provision from Esty’s Prevent Drug Addiction Act to provide states and non-profits with resources to conduct community education programs, with priority given to areas with high incidence of addiction and addiction-related deaths.

Click here to watch a video of her speech on the House floor at C-SPAN.

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