Ernst: “More than 135,255 pounds of unused drugs have been collected in Iowa since the beginning of the drug take back program.”

One year after the largest opioid response package in history was signed into law, Senator Ernst reaffirms her commitment to fighting the crisis for Iowa families and communities

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic, spoke on the Senate floor today on the work she and her Senate Republican colleagues are doing to combat the crippling opioid epidemic.

 Last week marked the one year anniversary of President Trump signing into law the largest opioid response package in our nation’s history. This important legislation, now law, includes Senator Ernst’s provisions to combat the opioid crisis through drug take back programs in communities in Iowa, and across the country.


Click here or the image above to watch Senator Ernst’s remarks.


Below are Senator Ernst’s remarks:

“Mr. President, just over a year ago, President Trump signed into law the most comprehensive and sweeping opioid response package in the nation’s history—a piece of legislation which passed this body with overwhelming bipartisan support – a rarity in gridlocked Washington.

“The reason we came together was simple. Opioid abuse is tearing apart families, straining our law enforcement and emergency services, and engulfing our communities. 

“Young mothers with precious babies, young people at the prime of their lives – focused on fentanyl rather that finding their path towards success. 

“This crippling epidemic has touched the lives of Iowans from all walks of life, and from all areas of our state.

“We’ve seen the harrowing statistics and the ongoing struggles that many of our loved ones face.  In Iowa, we also struggle with an ongoing meth epidemic that further threatens our communities.

“In just one of many statistics, the number of children put into foster care in the United States due to parental drug use nearly doubled from 2000 to 2017.  

“I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories from families who have a loved one battling addiction. 

“A mom from Polk County shared with me her son’s seven-year battle with addiction and how, the vicious disease affects all levels of our society, including our friends, neighbors, and, in her case, family.

“She concluded by pleading with Congress to act, to end, in her words, “this horrific situation and serious threat to our nation’s future.”

“Families like this are desperate for their loved ones to reach recovery and good health before their story ends in tragedy. 

“As is sometimes quoted ‘Addiction is a family disease.  One person may use, but the whole family suffers.’

“And it’s these heartbreaking stories that propelled me and my colleagues to take action.

“This bipartisan package, named the SUPPORT Act:

  •  Expanded treatment and recovery options for opioid addiction,
  • Created new tools for prevention and enforcement,
  • Supported safe disposal of opioids,
  • Strengthened first responders’ training, and
  • Provided for the safe disposal of unused drugs.

“It has produced real results for Iowans and folks across our country.

“Just last week I had the chance to join the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and a number of other administration officials to discuss the progress made on opioid abuse including efforts to reduce the number of women using opioids during pregnancy. 

“Folks, this president and this Republican-led Senate are tackling the opioid crisis in a meaningful and thoughtful way and I couldn’t be prouder to be associated with this work. 

“In Iowa alone, for instance, we’ve seen the number of deaths from opioids decrease by nineteen percent.

“And in September, the Administration announced 932 million dollars in awards for State Opioid Response grant funding, including over 11 million dollars for Iowa. 

“And this past Saturday, Iowans from across the state participated in another national Take Back Day to raise awareness and encourage safe disposal of unused prescription drugs.

“Earlier this year, in April, when we had another take back day, in my home state of Iowa, 88 law enforcement officers worked at 135 collection sites throughout the state and collected 11,680 pounds of unused prescription drugs.

“More than 135,255 pounds of unused drugs have been collected in Iowa since the beginning of the drug take back program.

“And I’m humbled to say that my bipartisan Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act, which was part of the sweeping package we passed last year, led directly to resources being awarded in Iowa for events like these.

“Folks, we should be encouraged by the impact the SUPPORT Act, combined with the Trump Administration’s efforts, have made in the lives of Iowans in just one year.

“As we continue in our fight, I feel hopeful and determined.  Hopeful that we can help Americans rise above the chains of addiction.  And determined all the more to keep making progress on behalf of families across this country. 

“Thank you.”