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Collins Joins Bipartisan Effort Urging President Biden to Restore Drug Control Policy Director to Cabinet-Level Position

Ahead of State of the Union Address: In 2022, an estimated 716 Mainers died from drug overdoses. Re-elevating Director of ONDCP would strengthen U.S. response to opioid epidemic, which now claims more than 100,000 lives each year

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the State of the Union Address, U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined a bipartisan, bicameral group urging President Biden to announce that he will restore the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to a Cabinet-level position. Elevating the post would enable ONDCP to more effectively coordinate drug control efforts across federal agencies and enhance the Biden administration’s response the opioid epidemic, a public health crisis that kills more than 100,000 Americans each year. Prior to 2009, the ONDCP Director’s position was Cabinet-level. As a senator, President Biden supported the ONDCP Director’s serving at the Cabinet level.


In 2022, an estimated 716 Mainers died from drug overdoses, and more than 10,110 total overdoses were reported. Maine’s annual overdose deaths have more than quadrupled in the past decade.  


“We were pleased that, in your State of the Union address last year, you identified ending the opioid epidemic as your top priority in the Unity Agenda,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to President Biden. “Since then, we have made great strides in the areas you discussed, including increasing funding for prevention, treatment, and recovery, and removing barriers to accessing medication for opioid use disorder. However, we have not yet broken the trend of rising overdose deaths, and patterns in overdose deaths are constantly evolving, as evidenced by the growing challenges related to xylazine.”


“As Members of Congress, we are doing our best to address this crisis, but we urge you to take every action within your authority to prevent further loss of life,” the lawmakers continued. “Reinstatement of the ONDCP Director to the Cabinet would be a meaningful step in improving interagency collaboration and the effectiveness of drug control programs across the federal government. It is time to restore the Director to a Cabinet position to address the drug crisis with the full force of this Administration and those that follow.”


In addition to Senator Collins, the letter was signed by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Representatives David Trone (MD-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Annie Kuster (NH-02), André Carson (D-IN), Sean Casten (D-IL), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Angie Craig (D-MN), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Josh Harder (D-CA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Mike Levin (D-CA), Kathy Manning (D-NC), James McGovern (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Wiley Nickel (D-NC), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Brittany Pettersen (D-CO), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Katie Porter (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), John Rutherford (R-FL), Patrick Ryan (D-NY), Andrea Salinas (D-CA), Hillary Scholten (D-MI), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), and Susan Wild (D-PA).