Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today gave the following statement on the House floor in support of the REGROUP Act (H.R. 6029). This legislation reauthorizes a federal grant program designed to combat the opioid epidemic enacted under the landmark Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

Chairman Goodlatte: Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, in July 2016, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, otherwise known as “CARA.”  The statistics then were shocking, and unfortunately they have not yet subsided.  More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids.  This figure has nearly doubled in the past decade.

Part of CARA created a comprehensive opioid abuse reduction program at the Department of Justice, which directs Federal resources for drug abuse programs targeted at the opioid problem within our criminal justice system.  By establishing this competitive grant program, CARA gives States and localities maximum flexibility to attack opioid abuse issues unique to their communities.  States are now able to use the grant funds for a variety of important criminal justice programs, including alternatives to incarceration, treatment programs for incarcerated individuals, juvenile opioid abuse, investigation and enforcement of drug trafficking and distribution laws, and significant training for first responders in carrying and administering opioid overdose reversal drugs like naloxone.  States can enlist nonprofit organizations, including faith-based organizations, in the fight against opioid abuse.

In 2016, CARA authorized this new program at $103 million annually over 5 years. However, three months ago Congress tripled that authorization to $330 million, including funds for drug courts, mental health courts, residential drug abuse treatment for state prisoners, and veterans treatment courts.  Therefore, the bill before us results in no net increase in spending authorizations and no additional burden on the American taxpayer, which is a responsible, good government approach to this epidemic. This bill reauthorizes the CARA program through 2023, so we can make sure there is no lapse in our efforts against drug addiction.

While members of this body should be proud of our accomplishments, there is still more work to do. I urge my colleges to support this bill and thereby reassure all Americans that we are committed to fighting the opioid epidemic.

I reserve the balance of my time.