I’m sure you — like me — were heartbroken by the shooting last week in Parkland, Fla. My wife, Renee, and I continue to pray for the people who are still fighting for their lives and for the families who lost loved ones. As a father, I was horrified by the carnage and loss of innocent, young life. I can’t imagine the terror felt by the children and adults in the school and by the parents. That’s why so many of us have been working for years to address the horror of mass shootings. I helped lead efforts in Congress to get the most transformational mental health reform in 50 years signed into law, which continues to provide resources and updated laws to expand access to mental health care.
In addition, we recently passed legislation that I wrote which requires agencies to report everyone who is federally prohibited from possessing a firearm to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). We provided more grant funding for training so teachers, EMS officials and others individuals can intervene before someone reaches a mental health crisis. And we reauthorized programs that focus on helping treat children early on with severe emotional disturbances. We still have work to do. Now is the time for us to come together in a bipartisan manner to ask the tough questions and address the underlying causes of this violence. This will continue to be a top priority for me.
Another priority for me is taking care of our military. Last week I voted for H. Res. 129, a bill introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson (TX-03), a Vietnam POW and war hero, to strengthen efforts to bring home every American Prisoner of War (POW) and missing soldier. Sadly 83,000 personnel of the United States military are still unaccounted-for around the world from past wars and conflicts.
This has been a top priority for me since day one; in fact, I personally visited the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s Joint Field Activities office in Hanoi, Vietnam, last Congress to see firsthand the ongoing efforts to recover the remains of our fallen soldiers from the Vietnam War and make sure they’re given a proper resting place back home in the United States. As the representative of Fort Bragg, I was proud to see this bill pass because we must continue to fight to uphold our sacred vow: leave no man behind.
As we continue our progress improving our economy, I am also staying focused on important priorities like fighting the opioid epidemic. To that end, last week I introduced the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act, a bipartisan response to the opioid crisis that will help prevent the misuse of unused medications by allowing hospice professionals to properly dispose of opioid medication after a patient has passed away. This sounds like common sense, but under current law, hospice officials weren’t allowed to take this simple step. Fixing this will help making sure unused drugs don’t end up in the wrong hands. Combating the opioid crisis is a priority of mine, and we will continue our critical work to save lives and restore our communities.