Rogers Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the Drug Enforcement Administration (As Prepared)

Apr 27, 2023

Good morning.

The Subcommittee will come to order. Without objection, the Chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. 

We welcome everyone to this morning's hearing, and I will begin by recognizing myself for an opening statement.

Administrator Milgram, I would like to welcome you to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee today. I'd like to extend our heartiest relations with you. You are here to testify regarding the Drug Enforcement Administration’s fiscal year 2024 budget request.

As we all know, the DEA plays a critical role in combating drug trafficking, reducing drug-related violence, and protecting our communities from the devastating effects of drug abuse.

Drug addiction and overdose deaths have become one of the most pressing public health crises in America today, and the impact of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has been particularly devastating.

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, making it extremely dangerous even in small amounts. In 2021, more than 107,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses, an increase of nearly 15% from the previous year. In Kentucky alone, we lost over 2,250 people to drug overdoses in 2021, and fentanyl was involved in many of these deaths. We're told of the 107,000 people nationally that roughly 70% of those deaths are fentanyl related.

United States counternarcotics policy regarding China has shifted to preventing Chinese-sourced fentanyl precursors from entering the U.S.-bound fentanyl supply chain via third countries and targeting illicit fentanyl-related financial flows linked to China.

Today, it appears, Mexican drug cartels are largely responsible for the production of U.S.-consumed illicit fentanyl. The cartels use Chinese-sourced primary materials to produce much of the illicit fentanyl found in the U.S. today. I understand the DEA has been working closely with our Mexican counterparts to target these criminal organizations, but we need to do more to disrupt their operations and bring those responsible to justice.

That is why the work of the DEA is critical to our national security, and I look forward to discussing the agency's budget request and its plans for addressing these urgent challenges.

To achieve success, the DEA must ensure the agency is efficiently and strategically utilizing the resources at its disposal. The agency’s FY24 budget request is approximately $2.7 billion, a 3.8% increase over the FY23 enacted level.

I am committed to working with my colleagues on this subcommittee to ensure the DEA has the tools necessary to effectively enforce our drug laws and to protect the health and safety of all Americans – but we must also ensure the agency, and its leadership, are always operating as efficiently and appropriately with taxpayer dollars as possible.

The impact of this drug crisis on our communities is profound, and it is particularly acute in my home state of Kentucky, including in the 5th Congressional District that I represent. I have seen firsthand the devastating toll that drug addiction can take on families and communities. I have met with parents who have lost children to overdose, and with law enforcement officials who are doing everything they can to stop the flow of drugs into our state.

I want to take a moment and thank Administrator Anne Milgram and the entire DEA team for their hard work and dedication to this important mission. We value your service, and we appreciate the sacrifices that you make to keep our communities safe. I would especially like to thank the Administrator for attending Operation UNITE’s annual Rx summit earlier this month in Atlanta, Georgia. We had some 4,000 people there from every nook and cranny of the country, and the world, including most of the federal, state, and local agencies that deal with overdose and addiction deaths. Thank you for taking part in that great summit. It was the 12th annual that we put together. It started out as a group that I put together in my own district 15 years ago when we were hit with oxycontin. It's called UNITE - Unlaw, Narcotics, Investigations, Treatment, Education - a holistic, simultaneous attack on the problem. It worked locally so we decided to take it nationally with the national drug summit and it's proved terrific so thank you for that. 

Administrator, I look forward to hearing from you today and learning more about the agency's plans for the coming year. And especially, we are anxious to hear about your work undoing the cartels, which is the railroad of fentanyl and other drugs coming into the country. We pledge our support to help you rid us of the cartels so we look forward to hearing from you and learning about your plans for the coming year. I yield back the balance of my time.

And now I turn to Mr. Cartwright for any remarks he would like to make.