Congressman Thomas J. Rooney

Representing the 17th District of Florida

Rooney Furthers Efforts Towards Ending Opioid Epidemic

Jun 28, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL-17) continued his fight against dangerous synthetic opioids by co-sponsoring the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act.

The opioid epidemic is spreading across our nation at an alarming rate and the pervasiveness of synthetic opioids is a major reason for the disturbing rise of deaths. Unfortunately, our archaic federal drug trafficking laws have made it difficult for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other groups within the Department of Justice to stop the spread of these dangerous synthetics, which can be lethal in doses as small as a few grains of salt. Current law allows manufacturers to stay ahead of the DEA and skirt prosecution by slightly altering the chemical structure of their drugs faster than the DEA can identify and schedule these new drugs.

“Every law enforcement and public health official I have spoken to from my district, points to opioid abuse and, specifically, synthetic opioids as one of the greatest challenges facing our communities,” Congressman Rooney said. “This bill will give the DEA the ability to arrest, prosecute and convict these illicit drug manufacturers, who currently get around our outdated drug trafficking laws. We cannot let our ability to save lives be hindered by the slog of government bureaucracy.”

SITSA provides law enforcement with a new tool to combat these rapidly changing drugs. By adding “Schedule A,” to the existing five drug schedules of the Controlled Substances Act, SITSA gives the Attorney General a mechanism to quickly schedule new drugs, giving the scientific and research communities time to develop information on these newly-invented substances. SITSA also adds to Schedule A thirteen synthetic fentanyls determined by the DEA to be immediate threats to public health. 

Congressman Rooney has sponsored and introduced numerous pieces of legislation designed to help end the opioid epidemic. The CDC estimated that more than 52,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2015 alone. Approximately two-thirds of these fatalities were from opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin. Last year, Rooney helped pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, legislation that authorizes grants for local addiction treatment, education and enforcement programs. Funding for the programs was included in the budget resolution that was signed into law in September.