Monday, February 12, 2018


Thank you Senator Casey for allowing me to share my heart about our cause "Families Fighting Fentanyl," our seeking justice on behalf of my deceased brother Pete Rossi, and for your gracious follow-up letter:
Dear Reverend Rossi:

Thank you for taking the time to share the story of your brother Peter and inquire about drug policies. I am sorry for your loss and appreciate your interest in improving outcomes for those who struggle with substance abuse.

Pennsylvania laws relating to homicide charges for drug dealers are primarily in the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As your United States Senator I am unable to take any direct action in this area, though I encourage you to reach out to your state senator and representative. At the federal level, I have taken steps to address the issue of substance abuse during my time in the Senate. I am a proud supporter of the Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant program, which encourages local citizens to get directly involved in solving their community's drug issues through grassroots community organizing and data driven planning and implementation. Research shows that effective prevention hinges on the extent to which the entire community works comprehensively and collaboratively to implement education, prevention, enforcement, treatment and recovery initiatives. Funding for this grant program is crucial in promoting drug free communities.

Heroin and prescription opioid abuse has become a crisis that is engulfing families and straining the capacity of public health professionals and law enforcement across our state and throughout our Nation. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, there was evidence of opioid use in 3,945 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2016. This is a 37 percent increase since 2015. It is clear that we must do more to address this significant public health threat.

On October 25, 2017, I introduced S. 2004, the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act. This legislation will allocate a total of $45 billion over ten years to addressing the opioid crisis. The funding through S. 2004 includes $44,748,000,000 over ten years for state efforts to address the crisis, and $252,000,000 over five years for research on pain and addiction. Ultimately, $45 billion is not enough, but it is a reasonable start and a foundation that Congress and the administration can build upon in the future. S. 2004 has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), of which I am a member. I look forward to working with my colleagues on HELP to move this legislation forward.

During the 114th Congress, I voted for S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2015. This legislation passed the House and the Senate and was signed into law by President Obama on July 22, 2016. Upon its passage, CARA created evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention programs, reinforced prescription drug monitoring programs and expanded prevention and educational endeavors to prevent opioid abuse. It also increased the availability of naloxone, which can help prevent overdose deaths, for first responders and law enforcement agencies to use, expanded the resources that are available to identify and treat inmates suffering from addiction and increased the number of disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications.

During consideration of CARA, I was proud to cosponsor and vote for S.A. 3345, an amendment that would have added $600 million in emergency funding to aid the public health professionals and law enforcement personnel who deal with the challenge of addiction daily. When this amendment did not pass, I signed a letter to the appropriators calling for them to provide the necessary funding to address the opioid abuse epidemic in a comprehensive manner, along the lines of the initiatives called for under CARA. I later signed a second letter, this time to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling on the Senate to reconsider legislation to provide $600 million in emergency funding to help communities tackle the opioid abuse epidemic. Following these efforts, H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act, allocated $1 billion in funding to address the opioid crisis when it was signed into law in December 2016.

Sadly, the national increase in the abuse of opioids, including heroin, has led to an increase in the number of children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). This condition occurs when infants are exposed to opioids during pregnancy, and can include seizures, fever, tremors and dehydration, all of which are extremely painful and can require months of hospitalization. In response to the dramatic increase in NAS, I worked with Majority Leader McConnell to introduce S. 799, the Protecting Our Infants Act. This bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study and develop consensus recommendations for preventing and treating prenatal opioid abuse and NAS. I am pleased that S. 799 passed the Senate and the House and was signed into law by President Obama on November 25, 2015.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.


Bob Casey

United States Senator


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