WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07) announced his membership as part of the newly formed Bipartisan Fentanyl Prevention Caucus. The caucus is focused on working with members from both sides of the aisle to combat the nationwide spike in fentanyl-related overdoses and drug poisonings, working with Federal and state law enforcement. Members of the Caucus will work to educate the public and the Congress, in cooperation with prevention and awareness groups to better understand and respond to the ongoing threat of fentanyl in communities across America.
“I applaud the work over the last two years to respond to deadly Fentanyl crisis impacting southern Arizona, and we must double down to make sure the recently passed laws to address this crisis are fully implemented and be prepared to act urgently to provide additional resources to save lives,” said Congressman Grijalva. “I’m glad to join the Bipartisan Fentanyl Prevention Caucus which is focused on educating the public, delivering solutions and stopping deaths related to this deadly drug.”
The caucus members include: Co-Chairs Joe Neguse (D-CO), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Ken Calvert (R-CA), and Members Angie Craig (D-MN), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Melanie Stansbury (D-NM), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Ruben Gallego (D-TX), Nikki Budzinski (D-IL), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Don Bacon (R-NE), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Andre Carson (D-IN), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Bob Latta (R-OH), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Barry Moore (R-AL), David Valadeo (R-CA), and Robert Aderholt (R-AL).
Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that continues to drive the overdose epidemic, its presence has been found in all 50 states. According to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 107,375 people in the United States died of drug overdoses and drug poisonings in 2021 to 2022. Of these deaths, an overwhelming sixty-seven percent involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
In 2022, Pima County had 284 deaths due to opioid overdose events and another 594 non-fatal opioid overdoses, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. About 13% of the non-fatal overdose events were of people between 18- and 24 years old, and 8% of the overdose deaths fell within the same age group. Fentanyl was involved in about 64% of the non-fatal overdose events in the state in 2022, an increase of 22% from 2021.
In July 2022, Rep. Grijalva authored an op-ed calling for politics to be put aside, and for the country to adopt genuine solutions to the fentanyl crisis, which reads in part:
“Instead of spending billions of dollars on building a border wall, scapegoating migrants and blustery rhetoric, we must invest in science backed methods to address this very real public health threat. We should focus on enhanced screening methods for mail and increased resources for our overburdened ports of entries so they can target the concealment of fentanyl.”
“We must ensure that tools for harm reduction are easily accessible. Naloxone and fentanyl test strips must be readily available in all communities with widespread education on their use. We must spread awareness in communities, especially communities of color, about the risks of fentanyl and fentanyl-tainted drugs.”
“To save lives, we need to make the necessary resources, treatments, and prevention services more accessible than drugs. We must raise awareness of the issue, and ensure susceptible communities understand the risk and prevalence of fentanyl and that other drugs may be laced with it.”
President Biden’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget request to Congress calls for a historic investment of $46.1 billion for National Drug Control Program agencies. The FY24 budget request continues the Biden Administration’s trend of calling for dramatic investments to address the overdose epidemic driven by fentanyl, and represents a $5.0 billion increase from the FY22 request and a $2.3 billion increase over the FY23 enacted level.