WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lawmakers continue to search for ways to battle the country’s opioid crisis.
The Senate Judiciary Committee spoke with government officials and anti-abuse advocates Tuesday about how to coordinate a “whole of government approach” to saving lives.
Witnesses from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice, Health and Human Services Department and Office of National Drug Control Policy shared updates on their efforts to lower the number of opioid deaths.
But Louisiana Senator John Kennedy wasn’t satisfied, “You’re telling me we need 8 billion? That’s like nine zeros doses of opioids per year for the American people. 25 Vicodin, let’s say for every man woman and child, we need every single one of them?”
“Sir, I said the quota that we have is appropriate for what we believe for the United States,” says William McDermott, of the DEA.
The senators pressed the agencies on policies they said threaten lives.
This was a bipartisan effort from the committee, with members from both sides of the aisle teaming up to get answers.
“And what does that look like in terms of what we need to implement?,” asks North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis.
Tillis asked the panel what more Congress can do to help the process – while California Senator Diane Feinstein pressed them to get on board with making Fentanyl illegal.
“Our country has been ravaged by an addition epidemic, and it costs tens of thousands of lives each year. So failure should not be an option,” says Feistein.
In the end, witnesses said they can do better.
“[The] DEA realizes that we could have done things differently. We are doing things differently,” says McDermott.
Lawmakers here plan to hold them to this promise.