Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor today in support of legislation to respond to the opioid epidemic. He also discussed his own bill— H.R. 5052, the Opioid Program Evaluation Act—which will use data to make sure grant programs to combat opioid abuse actually work. The resolution passed 410-1.

“Mr. Speaker, where I’m from in Kern County, California over 160 people are sent to the emergency room for opioid overdoses every single year. Every single one of those stories is tragic.

“Addiction tears families apart, it uproots communities, and it deprives people of the basic freedom to live the lives they want. And opioid addiction is only getting worse in this country. The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows 78 Americans die every single day from [opioid] overdose. Seventy-eight Americans.

“We need to do something about it. You know, ultimately, it’s individuals, families, and the communities that are on the front line in the fight against addiction. But Congress can do something too. The federal government can and should support community efforts to stop opioid abuse and help those in recovery.

So we have over a dozen bills we will pass this week that targets at the center of the opioid addiction crisis—the drug trade, prescription abuse, health care, prevention, and you name it. But it’s not enough to pass laws and start new programs. After all, a lot of government programs sound good, but they don’t mean as much if they don’t work. Most programs, if not every government program, are created with the very best intentions. But good intentions don’t make good government.

“When Congress decided to set up a program using money and resources from the American people, we better be sure that what we’re doing is making a difference and actually helping those in need as best we can.

“That is why Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD-05) and myself drafted the Opioid Program Evaluation Act, better known as the OPEN Act. Because we need to actually help stop the abuse, not just create programs to talk about. We need to prevent addiction from happening. We need to help those addicted to recover. And we can’t afford to waste time and money accomplishing these goals. 

Ultimately, we need to use the power of data to determine if these programs actually work. You know, it’s that simple. You see, we live in the age of data, and innovators around the country and around the world are using data to do everything from providing better service to customer, preventing disease, and to prevent crimes across this country.

“We can learn from that. We need to bring data and innovation into government. When we do that we can ensure government programs work as intended and it’s the most effective way possible. That’s what this bill will do. It gives health care officials, researchers, and it engages citizens, [giving them] the opportunity to see exactly what their government is doing and to use the information to make the best ability to treat those who are addicted to opioids. 

For months now I have been working with other members on an Innovation Initiative with this exact goal: to modernize government. This is just the latest bill shaping our policies and reforming the way Washington works.  

“So I urge the members to join and support this bill. I want to thank the Minority Whip for his work, his thoughtfulness, and his research in making this happen. Today is a vote for accountability. Vote for more than just words. Vote to effectively fight the opioid epidemic. 

“I yield back.”