Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, warned Saturday that drug addiction is becoming a major cause of accidents and death, and used the weekly Republican address to call for passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
"This epidemic does not discriminate. Zip codes don't matter," Portman said. "It's affecting our cities, suburban areas, and rural counties. Young or old, rich, middle class or poor, black, white, Hispanic or Asian."
"Heroin and prescription drug overdoses have now surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of injury-related deaths nationwide," Portman said.
"On a recent visit to a firehouse … a group of first responders told me that they now respond to more drug overdoses than fires," Portman said.
Portman said the legislation in the Senate would focus on prevention and education, "to prevent abuse before it starts," and would also help fund recovery programs. "There is an urgency to this issue — Congress must act now to help repair our communities, our families and our country," he said.
Portman, the former trade representative for President George W. Bush, was considered by Mitt Romney for the vice presidential slot on the GOP ticket in 2012, but finished a runner-up to Paul Ryan.
Portman is seen as facing a tough re-election fight for Senate in 2016, but is likely to be considered for the second spot in the all-important swing state of Ohio.