Today, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ11) jointly introduced a bipartisan bill to provide states funding to fight the opioid epidemic. Sherrill, who represents the district that includes Verona, also testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on the importance of funding the Gateway Tunnel and rail maintenance along the Northeast Corridor.
The opioid proposal, unveiled with Representatives David Trone (D-MD), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), and Denver Riggleman (R-VA), would authorize $5 billion to extend the State Opioid Response Grant program. The money distributed through these grants has helped to provide additional treatment beds, expand treatment and recovery options, bridge gaps identified in systems of care, support robust prevention campaigns, among other actions taken by the states to address the opioid epidemic. The legislators are members of the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction.
“I told New Jerseyans that I would find ways to work for commonsense, bipartisan solutions to some of our greatest challenges,” said Sherrill. “New Jersey lost more than 3,000 individuals to overdoses in 2018, and this crisis extends to every corner of our country. I’ve spoken to advocates, patients, healthcare professionals, and law enforcement officers in our community, and the lack of resources constantly comes up as a roadblock to progress in combating the opioid epidemic. Extending the State Opioid Response Grant program will give New Jersey and states across the country resources to address the opioid epidemic over the long term.”
Sherrill also testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on the Gateway Tunnel ahead of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee field hearing on the Gateway Project to be held on Thursday, May 2, and Friday, May 3. During the field hearing, the House delegation will tour the existing Hudson River Tunnel and participate in a roundtable with Gateway Project stakeholders.
She called Gateway “the nation’s most urgent infrastructure project,” and added that she was pleased to see that President Trump and Speaker Pelosi met Tuesday to talk about infrastructure, and agreed to move forward on a $2 trillion infrastructure package.
Sherrill noted that the Regional Plan Association recently said that a planned closure of half the tunnel would be a $16 billion hit to the national economy over four years and a $22 billion hit to residential property values in New Jersey alone. Rising air fares, more pollution, longer commutes, and increased motor vehicle accidents will further harm the single most economically productive region in our country. “A complete collapse of the tunnel,” she said, “could injure thousands and cost our economy an estimated $100 million a day.
“We are better than this,” Sherrill added. “There’s no reason for transit agencies to struggle to maintain the workforce to keep the trains running on time. I look forward to working with this committee to explore how the Federal Transit Administration can provide greater assistance for recruiting and training to fix these workforce shortages.”