Donald Trump said he would declare the opioid crisis a national emergency two months ago. He still hasn’t.

Elizabeth Warren is wondering why.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by SHAWN THEW/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9119522d)
Elizabeth Warren
DACA recipients and pro-immigrant advocacy groups protest t the US Capitol, Washington, USA - 05 Oct 2017
US Democratic Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren delivers remarks during a news conference with DACA recipients and pro-immigrant advocacy groups to demand passage of a 'Clean Dream Act', at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 05 October 2017.
Elizabeth Warren speaks during a press conference last week outside the Capitol. –Shawn Thew / EPA

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This is one case where Sen. Elizabeth Warren would actually like to see President Donald Trump follow through on his policy pledge.

In August, Trump said the White House was “drawing documents now” to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, a move that could allow access to increased resources and expedite efforts to respond to the national crisis.

‘‘The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency,” Trump said at the time. “It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”


More than two months later, it still hasn’t happened.

In a letter to the president Thursday, Warren and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a colleague on the other side of both the aisle and the country, applauded Trump’s “stated commitment to addressing opioid addiction,” but questioned why he has yet to “back up” those words.

“We are extremely concerned that 63 days after your statement, you have yet to take the necessary steps to declare a national emergency on opioids, nor have you made any proposals to significantly increase funding to combat the epidemic,” wrote the Massachusetts Democrat and the Alaska Republican.

Both senators noted how their states had already declared opioid abuse an emergency (Massachusetts in 2014, Alaska earlier this year) to give first responders and families the ability to carry and administer anti-overdose medication, in addition to other initiatives aimed at combatting drug addiction.

Trump created a federal commission in March to address the national crisis. The commission, of which Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is a member, recommended that the president declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency in late July.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who Trump appointed to chair the commission, said Tuesday that the delay in the formal declaration was not helping matters.


“I think the problem is too big to say that if he had declared an emergency two months ago that it would make a significant difference in two months,” said the Republican governor. “But I would also say you can’t get those two months back. And so it’s not good that it hasn’t been done yet.”

In their letter Thursday, Warren and Murkowski called on Trump to follow their states’ lead.

“Massachusetts and Alaska have been on the forefront of the opioid crisis that is sweeping our nation, and we are proud to represent states that have tackled the epidemic head on,” they wrote. “We hope that you will back up your verbal commitment to fighting the ‘serious problem’ of opioid addiction with action.”