WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A group of freshman lawmakers representing 30 states is hoping a fresh approach can make a difference in the war against drug addiction.
Congressman David Trone, D-Maryland, is one of the 55 members of the “Freshman Working Group on Addiction.” He’s witnessed the painful reality of addiction firsthand.
In 2016, there were more than 64,000 overdose deaths, according to Trone, and his nephew was one of them.
“He died alone in a hotel room at the age of 24,” Trone said.
Trone and his fellow freshman lawmakers have introduced their first bill to fight opioid abuse and addiction and hopefully save lives. The State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act seeks to set aside grant money that would empower states to get a better grip on the epidemic.
“$5 billion over the next five years to help combat this disease,” Trone added. “It’s a disease, and it’s not a crime.”
“We can no longer stand by and watch as this crisis ravages our towns and cities,” Congressman Denver Riggleman, R-Virginia, said.
Riggleman said the bill is the first of many the group will introduce to combat this issue.
“My district in Virginia has been terribly affected by this crisis and I know we can’t wait to take action,” he added.
The lawmakers are counting on President Donald Trump to support their efforts.
“We’re down 16 percent with opioids,” Trump said. “I heard that number the first time the other day and I said, ‘that’s a lot.’ It really is. It’s not there, but we hope to get there.”
The president and the freshmen lawmakers agree there’s more work to be done.
“This issue cuts across all party lines, white, black, and brown, rich and poor,” Trone said.
Trone said he’s confident the legislation will find its way to the Trump’s desk.