President Trump to Declare Opioid Crisis a National Emergency

Alicia Ault

August 10, 2017

President Donald J. Trump said he will declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, as had been requested by his own special commission in late July.

President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

"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 said, as reported by the Washington Post . The president was speaking from Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is on a working vacation. "There's never been anything like what's happened to this country over the last 4 or 5 years," said Trump.

After Trump spoke, the White House issued a brief statement confirming the president's intentions. "Building upon the recommendations in the interim report from the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, President Donald J. Trump has instructed his Administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic."

The declaration comes 2 days after Trump met with US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, MD, on the opioid issue. After that meeting, Dr Price said the declaration was not necessary.

The president seemed to concur, and said, "The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place."

On July 31, the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued an interim report with the recommendation that Trump immediately declare a national emergency. Commission Chair Chris Christie called that "the single-most important recommendation" in the report.

Such a declaration would mean the administration could waive some federal rules that would allow states and municipalities and cities more flexibility. The federal government also provides financial, personnel, services, logistical, and technical assistance to states and localities.

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