Fentanyl prevention is focus of new congressional caucus co-chaired by Colorado’s Neguse
Shaun Willis, with the Brooklyn Community Recovery Center, demonstrates how to use Narcan to revive a person in the case of a drug overdose on Aug. 31, 2022, in New York City. Nearly one million people have died of drug overdose deaths in America in the past two decades, with an increasing majority of those deaths due to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Lafayette is one of four federal representatives leading the newly formed Bipartisan Fentanyl Prevention Caucus in Congress.
The caucus co-chairs — besides Neguse they include Democrat Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania and Republicans Darrell Issa of California and Ken Calvert of California — will work with legislators from both parties as well as federal and state law enforcement to combat the nation’s spike in fentanyl overdoses and poisonings. Education will also be a key priority of the caucus members, working with prevention and awareness groups to help the public better understand the threat fentanyl poses.
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“Fentanyl is devastating communities throughout America — in every state, and in every region,” Neguse said in a statement. “Policymakers cannot ignore this deadly crisis, and must work together to develop solutions. It is in the interest of every American to put an end to fentanyl poisonings. Through the Bipartisan Fentanyl Prevention Caucus, my colleagues and I are joining together to find and implement solutions, and ultimately save lives.”
In 2021, the most recent year for which figures are available, fentanyl contributed to 912 overdose deaths in Colorado. The figure in 2020 was 540.
The caucus formed days after Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office released a report detailing the dangers of social media as a tool for fentanyl distribution, which includes multiple recommendations to social media platforms as well as state and federal legislators intended to mitigate online drug traffic.
Colorado Springs’ Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is also a member of the caucus.
“The Fentanyl Prevention Caucus will focus on a widespread approach to the opioid crisis at hand,” Lamborn told Newsline. “We will hear from experts across the spectrum of law enforcement, state, local, and tribal governments, teachers, parents and medical professionals that see the effects on a daily basis. Based on those responses, we will look to push actionable agencies to deter, enforce, and educate, while we work on legislation to combat this ongoing crisis.”
Lamborn added that he has “seen firsthand how the fentanyl crisis has affected Coloradans.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, and at least 65% of those deaths were due to the fentanyl, Lamborn said.
Other members of the caucus include:
- 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)
- Raúl Grijalva (D-NM)
- 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)
- Robert Aderholt (R-AL)
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6:41 p.m., March 10, 2023, to add comments from Rep. Doug Lamborn.
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