VICKY'S VIEW: Remembering One of Our Own
Confronting the Drug Epidemic
This week, the House addressed opioid abuse with a line-up of more than 30 bills to confront this epidemic.
Click here or on the image above to see the story of Samantha Huntley, who fell victim to opioid abuse.
On Wednesday, I spoke at a press conference addressing the House’s efforts to confront opioid abuse and I shared the story of Samantha Huntley, a Kickapoo cheerleader from Springfield who died of a heroin overdose when she was 20. I shared the same story with the rest of the House on Thursday. Samantha’s story is a tragic one— she died much too young and with too much promise. Samantha was in a car crash when she was 16, broke her back in three places, and was prescribed opioids by her doctor to handle the pain. After he stopped prescribing them, Samantha began doing heroin. When she was in the deepest throes of her addiction, she told her mom it was like two different people lived inside of her— she wanted to escape the grip of addiction, but sadly, ultimately failed. She overdosed in her bedroom at home, three days after returning from drug rehab. It is a story I will never forget.
I “met” Sam through her mom, Julie Oziah-Gideon, at the high school assemblies I held in conjunction with my second annual Drug Free Missouri Week. Julie spoke alongside motivational speaker Tom Krause and me, telling students about Sam’s story. The assemblies were well-received, but all involved acknowledged more could be done to fight drug abuse in our communities.
The House took action the last two years when it passed almost $4 billion in funding to combat opioid abuse and this week when we passed over 30 bills tackling the opioid crisis. Part of this strategy involves providing law enforcement with the tools they need to get dangerous drugs out of our schools and communities. This includes the interception of illicit opioids at international mail facilities as well.
But a crackdown by authorities is only part of the answer. In the House we are working to improve access to treatment and recovery services, encourage non-addictive opioid alternatives to treat pain, and measures to address high prescribing rates while enhancing drug monitoring programs. See more about the bills we have passed this week at opioidcrisis.gop.
Opioids have been wreaking havoc on Americans and communities for far too long. In 2018, more than 2 million Americans suffered from addiction to opioids. Sadly, more than 64,000 Americans died from overdoses in 2016. One hundred and fifteen people in the United States die from opioid overdoses every day. Hopefully, the actions Congress took this week will start reversing this tragic trend and future Samanthas will get to live.
Providing Veterans with the Best Health Care Available
Click here or on the image above to see me speak about my bill at the House Veterans Affairs Committee legislative hearing on Wednesday.
Since first coming to Congress in 2011, I have made it a priority to serve our veterans. As such, I have written legislation to make the Veterans Administration (VA) more competitive in recruiting top-quality physicians to care for our men and women who have served. This bipartisan bill, the VA Hiring Enhancement Act, H.R. 5521, authorizes the VA to begin recruiting and hiring medical residents on a timeline that is more competitive with the private sector. This bill also does away with non-compete agreements for private physicians if they are being considered for positions within the Veterans Health Administration, so the VA can hire the best health care professionals to serve those who have served us. Our veterans have served us; it is time for us to provide them with the best health care available. Achieving that includes eliminating the barriers that stand in the way of the VA recruiting the best people.
On Wednesday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing to review my bill - I am excited to see it progress forward. With this bill, we are getting closer to increased quality of veteran care.
North Korea: Historic Progress
The world stopped and watched this week as President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in Singapore – the first meeting between sitting leaders of both countries.
This summit has brought about renewed optimism that the Korean Peninsula could be on the way to peace and stability. South Korean President Moon Jae-In released a statement, on Facebook, expressing that optimism: “The June 12 Sentosa Agreement will be recorded as a historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy on earth.” He added, “It is a great victory achieved by both the United States and the two Koreas, and a huge step forward for people across the world who long for peace.”
CNN agreed this event was monumental. Anchor Alisyn Camerota said, “The devil will be in the details, but for the moment, it’s a historic day and he’s achieved more than any other U.S. sitting President at least with this historic summit and handshake.”
President Trump’s goal is, of course, a complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearized North Korea, and only time will tell whether North Korea, a long-time international threat, will honor its pledge to abandon its nuclear program. There is much work to be done in the months and years ahead to ensure North Korea pursues the path of peace and prosperity, but the Singapore Summit has been a good start.
Photos of the Week
Thank you, Governor Parson, for hosting the Missouri delegation Monday morning to discuss how we can work together to move Missouri forward.
It was a pleasure talking with young leaders of American House Council Tuesday afternoon about their equestrian activities and the benefits of equine therapy for veterans.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention made the time to stop by my Washington office Tuesday to discuss the epidemic of suicide in our country, and how it impacts Missouri residents. I so appreciated hearing their stories.
On Wednesday I had a great meeting with Ameris from Bunceton High School, who was on a Close Up trip to Washington D.C.
It was great to meet with H.R. Block on Wednesday about the products and services they provide to Missouri’s Fourth District. Thank you for stopping by!
A big thanks to Heartland Credit Union Association for making the time to stop by my Washington D.C. office on Wednesday!
Later on Wednesday, Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence took the time to stop by my office to discuss preventing and addressing domestic and sexual violence in Missouri.
I was so glad to get the chance to speak with students from Missouri Electric Cooperative when they were in D.C. on Wednesday.
I had a great meeting Wednesday with SourceAmerica to discuss employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities. Thank you for stopping by!
On Thursday morning I participated in an important House Armed Services Committee hearing on Navy and Air Force depot policy issues and infrastructure concerns.
In March I introduced a bill that would allow the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to detect, track, and engage with drones that pose a security risk. On Thursday, Dedrone met with me and discussed why this bill is so crucial to national security.
I enjoying being with my team at the Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday! It was a year ago yesterday when a deranged gunman shot Steve Scalise & hurt others. I’m so thankful Rep. Scalise was with us Thursday, starting at 2nd base! #GodIsGood
The Good News about Tax Reform
There is more good news this week regarding the tax reform package that is helping to send out economy soaring.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reports small business optimism rose in May to its highest level in more than 30 years. Reports of pay increases also hit record highs – and the new tax law is being credited as one of the reasons. The NFIB report states: “The new tax code is returning money to the private sector where history makes clear it will be better invested than by a government bureaucracy. Regulatory costs, as significant as taxes, are being reduced.”
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