Kirk Statement on State of the Union Address
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) released the below statement following President Obama’s final State of the Union address. Senator Kirk invited Mark Filler of Highland Park, who founded the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation after losing his 23-year-old son Jordan to a heroin overdose, to attend the address as his guest.
“My guest tonight was Mark Filler of Highland Park, who lost his son Jordan to a heroin overdose two years ago today. Mark is a reminder that no family is safe from the heroin epidemic taking lives across the country. Programs like the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation and my Anti-Heroin Task Force are shining a light on drug abuse and the life-saving drug naloxone so we can prevent more families from losing a child.
“Our bipartisan responsibility in 2016 is to keep Americans safe. Just last week, two more men – admitted through the Iraqi refugee program – were arrested for terrorist ties. Until our flawed screening process can be fixed, including reviewing social media posts, the security of the American people requires a pause in the Syrian refugee program.”
- In 2014, Senator Kirk and local county leaders in Illinois launched a Suburban Anti-Heroin Task Force to tackle the ongoing problem of heroin addiction and abuse in the Chicago suburbs. Attending the launch was Felicia Meceli, who lost her son Louie at age 24 to a heroin overdose.
- In DuPage County, the Senator met with local leaders like County Coroner Rich Jorgensen and County Board Members to discuss the rising issue of heroin abuse in DuPage.
- In 2014, Senator Kirk wrote to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg to approve the development of intranasal naloxone, a drug that can save lives during an overdose. For example, the spray costs DuPage County $16 per unit compared to $290 per unit for the intravenous form of the drug. Unless fast-tracked, approval for the nasal spray would have taken 7-8 years, a delay that according to current trends would have risked more than 1,000 lives in the Chicago suburbs due to heroin addiction. In July, the FDA accepted nasal naloxone for fast-track approval, and since the device requires minimal training, countless more lives will be saved once naloxone is made more widely available.
- Last year, Live 4 Lali, a group Senator Kirk has been working with to raise awareness about the threat of heroin, had more than 3,000 auto-injectors of naloxone and teamed up with a local clinic to train individuals on how to use them.
- Senator Kirk and a bipartisan group of senators also recently wrote a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell calling for increased access to medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to treat opioid abuse. One month later, HHS complied with their request and raised the number of patients physicians can treat using this proven method. MAT typically involves a combination of medications, including buprenorphine, and therapy to treat opioid abuse while curbing the side effects of withdrawal.
- Last August, Senator Kirk met with the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli to discuss heroin and prescription drug abuse, and the suburban success of naloxone and increasing access to this medication was discussed.
- In November, Senator Kirk and Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.-10) sent a letter to Larry Merlo, President and CEO of CVS, urging the company to make Illinois one of the states that the pharmacy makes narcan available to consumers without a prescription. It was announced that 20 additional states would be eligible to have naloxone available over the counter at CVS stores – 12 states had already been chosen by the company.
- Last month, Senator Kirk worked with his colleagues on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to include $123 million, an increase of $91 million or 284 percent, for programs targeted to combat opioid abuse at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
National Security Background:
- Senator Kirk, with Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), introduced the Defend America Act (S. 2435) to prevent terrorist infiltration of the Syrian and Iraqi refugee programs by thoroughly screening all refugee and immigrant visa applicants for any pro-terrorist social media or other support to terrorist groups like ISIS.
- Two Iraqi refugees arrested in ongoing terrorism investigation, one of whom pledged allegiance on social media to various terrorist organizations
- Two al Qaeda terrorist bomb-makers infiltrated the Iraqi refugee program to resettle in Kentucky in 2009.
- Current Administration policy reportedly blocks authorities from screening visa applicants for pro-terrorist social media.
- At least two of the ISIS terrorists involved in the November 13th attacks in Paris, France, entered Europe by infiltrating refugee flows.
Kirk Statement on Iranian Detainment of 10 American Sailors
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today issued the following statement after Iranian military forces seized two U.S. Navy boats and detained 10 sailors:
“Even Americans who support the nuclear deal with Iran can agree that implementation should be contingent on the release of all U.S. Navy personnel and the additional American citizens detained – Pastor Saeed Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Robert Levinson and Siamak Namazi. One hundred billion dollars to the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism only emboldens Iran to harm more Americans.”
(1) Prior to today’s incident, Iran also wrongfully imprisoned American citizens Pastor Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Robert Levinson, Jason Rezaian and Siamak Zamazi.
(2) Moreover, Iran-sponsored terrorists and militants are responsible for the death of more than 700 Americans.
During the 1980s, Iran-backed attacks killed over 290 Americans in Lebanon, including 13 from Illinois: GySgt Alvin Belmer, USMC; LCpl David D. Gay, USMC; CAPT Paul A. Hein, USMC; PFC Melvin D. Holmes, USMC; Cpl Joseph R. Livingston, USMC; Sgt John A. Phillips, Jr., USMC; PFC Eric A. Pulliam, USMC; Cpl Gary R. Scott, USMC; 1st Lt William S. Sommerhof, USMC; LCpl Eric D. Sturghill, USMC; Cpl Eric R. Walker, USMC; James F. Lewis; and William R. Sheil.
During the 2000s, Iran-backed attacks killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. As General Joseph Dunford, incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Senators on July 9, 2015: “I know the total number of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines killed by Iranian activities [in Iraq and Afghanistan], and the number has been recently quoted as about 500.”
(3) In response to a request from Senator Kirk, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) produced a research memo laying out public estimates of how much Iran annually spends to support terrorism and militancy. (See CRS memo and related chart.) CRS found that Iran funds Hezbollah with $100-$200 million, Hamas with “tens of millions,” and Syria’s Assad regime with $6-$15 billion annually.