A picture of Senator Patrick J. Leahy
Patrick L.
Democrat VT

About Sen. Patrick
  • Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016

    by Senator Patrick J. Leahy

    Posted on 2016-06-16

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    LEAHY. Madam President, I am a proud cosponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, and I am glad that this important bill is now going to be moving to conference. I am glad that as the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, I will be a conferee.

    Beyond the idea of being a conferee, it is urgent that we find comprehensive and real solutions to the epidemic of heroin and prescription opioid abuse. I am in Vermont many times a month. I hear from people I know and from some I do not know. They are in the grocery stores, on the street, even coming out of church on Sunday. They are telling me of their concerns either within their own family or in their own neighborhood with the problems of opioid abuse. Communities throughout the Nation are grappling with this issue, whether they are in urban areas or rural areas or a State such as the Presiding Officer and I represent that has a mixture of both urban and rural.

    I think the Federal Government has to do its part to provide the support [[Page S4282]] necessary to sustain those efforts. It means real money. For rural communities, which are predominantly the communities in my home State of Vermont, it means better access to the opioid antidote Naloxone, which saves lives. I have held hearings throughout Vermont, and I have heard from not only the police but physicians, the faith community, parents, teachers, and others that Naloxone can save lives.

    It is really not a question of whether there is a heroin-opioid epidemic; the question is how quickly we can respond. We have to act now. The American people expect us to, and that is an expectation they are justified to have. So let us fulfill the expectation.

    I support the efforts by my neighbor from New Hampshire, Senator Shaheen, and I support her motion to instruct conferees to provide funding for State and local efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

    I also support my fellow New Englander, Senator Whitehouse, in his motion to instruct conferees to address the needs of rural communities. I come from a State of 625,000 people--625,000 very special people. It is very rural. We need the help. I support Senator Whitehouse in this.

    I see other Senators on the floor, so I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.

    Puerto Rico

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