Opioid epidemic needs our attention

To the editor:

In April 2016, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015 was signed into law after passing unanimously in both the House and the Senate. Originally marketed as a non-controversial bipartisan bill, members were led to believe that it would help secure pain medications for patients and make small technical changes. However, it now appears that the true goal of the bill was to tie the hands of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Justice Department by limiting their authority to stop suspicious and potentially dangerous opioid shipments.

The Energy and Commerce Committee failed to properly vet this bill and it should not have moved to the Floor under suspension, which is a procedure that places legislation under little scrutiny and allows it to pass by voice vote with just a handful of Members present.

The United States is facing an unprecedented opioid epidemic, and it is critical that Congress develops effective policy to combat addiction. For that reason, I have decided to co-sponsor the bipartisan RESTORE Act (H.R. 4079) to fully repeal the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015.

If there are parts of the 2016 legislation that are needed, then Congress should start over and have a full debate with recorded votes. The opioid epidemic needs our immediate attention, and I am committed to ensuring that the DEA and Department of Justice are equipped to fight it.

Congressman Collin C. Peterson

Minnesota 7th District

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