President Trump said he is drafting paperwork to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, according to a White House pool report.
Trump made the announcement during an appearance Wednesday outside his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey, where the president is on a 17-day vacation.
“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency,” Trump said. “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.”
When pressed by reporters on whether he needs emergency powers, Trump said, “We’re going to draw it up and we’re going to make it a national emergency.”
“It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had. You know when I was growing up they had the LSD and they had certain generations of drugs. There’s never been anything like what’s happened to this country over the last four or five years. And I have to say this in all fairness, this is a worldwide problem, not just a United States problem. This is happening worldwide. But this is a national emergency and we are drawing documents now to so attest.”
Declaring a national emergency was the “first and most urgent” recommendation from an interim report released last week from a White House Commission tasked with helping curb the epidemic.
On Tuesday, Trump received a private briefing on the crisis with administration officials and advisers.
In brief comments before that meeting, Trump vowed an intense effort on opioids, saying he would work with law enforcement inside and outside of the country against “drug dealers that poison our communities.”
After the briefing, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PricePrice: Trump was joking about firing me States may see up to 39 percent decline in Medicaid funding under repeal Complaint charges Price used campaign funds to promote Trump appointment MORE indicated that the administration would not declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, saying the White House already is empowered with the resources to help address the problem.
Price said other national emergencies for public health have been focused on a “time-limited problem, either an infectious disease or a specific threat to public health.”
The nation has seen a significant uptick in deaths from opioids, with the rate of death from heroin and prescription painkillers quadrupling since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.