BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will officially declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency” and pledged to ramp up government efforts to combat the epidemic.
“The opioid crisis is an emergency. And I am saying officially right now: It is an emergency, it’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” Trump told reporters during a brief question-and-answer session ahead of a security briefing Thursday at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
He said he’d be drawing up documents to formalize the declaration soon.
A drug commission convened by Trump and led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently called on Trump to declare a national emergency to help deal with the growing crisis. An initial report from the commission noted that the approximately 142 deaths each day from drug overdoses mean the death toll is “equal to September 11th every three weeks.”
Trump received a briefing on the report earlier this week during his 17-day working vacation in New Jersey.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price seemed to suggest after that briefing that the president was leaning against the recommendation, arguing that the administration could deploy the necessary resources and attention to deal with the crisis without declaring a national emergency.
Still, Price stressed that “all things” were “on the table for the president.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions commended Trump for “taking this drastic and necessary measure to confront an opioid crisis that is devastating communities around the country and ripping families apart.”
Christie applauded Trump’s decision in a statement, saying the president “deserves great credit.”
“As I have said before, I am completely confident that the President will address this problem aggressively and do all he can to alleviate the suffering and loss of scores of families in every corner of our country,” he said.
Trump said Thursday that the nation’s addiction to opioids is “a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had.”
Colvin reported from Washington.
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat from Indiana, issued this statement:
I am pleased that President Trump plans to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. We know that it will take all of us working together to effectively turn the tide against this public health crisis that has harmed so many families in Indiana and across the country. I hope this declaration will lead to necessary, additional resources for states and local communities to ensure those battling substance use disorders can access treatment.”
U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, a Republican from Indiana, issued this statement:
I am in strong agreement of the President’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a national emergency. Too many lives have been lost to this sweeping epidemic in Indiana and across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recent data estimates the opioid epidemic is taking the lives of 142 Americans every single day. That number of lives lost is devastating.
“Today’s declaration will further put a spotlight on an issue that deserves urgent attention and ensures that combatting this epidemic is a national priority for the country.”