Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick is taking on a leadership role in the fight against the national heroin and opioid addiction crisis.
Fitzpatrick, R-8, of Middletown, on Wednesday was named to the new position of vice chairman of the House's Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. He will help lead the group with New Jersey Congressmen Donald Norcross, a Democrat, Tom MacArthur, a Republican, and New Hampshire Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kuster. MacArthur and Kuster have co-chaired the task force since January.
"Opioid addiction and abuse is nothing short of an epidemic. From the toll it takes on our communities and families, to the strain on local leaders and law enforcement, this crisis is too important to let partisan politics get in the way of solutions," Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
Fitzpatrick, whose district includes Bucks County and part of Montgomery County, also serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Small Business.
"Addiction is a disease — not a personal failure. We must come together, end the stigma and help those suffering," said Norcross. "Addressing this growing crisis is not a red or blue issue; it's a national health and national security issue. The soaring rise in deaths, fueled by heroin and prescription painkillers, now kills more Americans than car crashes, guns, terrorism or war. Our Bipartisan Heroin Task Force is rightfully working together to curb this terrible epidemic, and I look forward to helping to lead the discussion as vice chair."
The task force was formed by Kuster last year and has more than 85 members.
Both measures authorized federal funding to assist state and local governments with addiction prevention, recovery and law enforcement, and research and treatment.
MacArthur said the appointment of Norcross and Fitzpatrick to vice chairman positions will help continue the task force's work and commitment to bipartisan problem-solving.
"The Bipartisan Heroin Task Force has made tremendous strides to raise awareness and implement policies that will help fight the heroin epidemic," MacArthur said Wednesday.
"It has grown to over 85 members and is one of the most rigorously bipartisan organizations in Congress. I know with Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Donald Norcross as vice chairs, we will continue to grow and remain committed to combating this crisis."