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Pallone Floor Statement on the Mental Health Justice Act

Sep 22, 2022
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following statement on the House Floor today during consideration of H.R. 8542, the Mental Health Justice Act of 2022:

I rise today in support of H.R. 8542, the Mental Health Justice Act of 2022, sponsored by Congresswoman Katie Porter of California. 

As my colleagues well know, the nation is facing a mental health crisis. One in five adults experience a mental health illness in their life, and one in twenty experience a serious mental illness. 

The Mental Health Justice Act creates a grant program for local governments to hire, train, and dispatch mental health professionals when 911 is called because someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.

Mr. Speaker, we must ensure people have access to the support they need, especially in moments of crisis when emergency responders are called.

This legislation would help support connecting those experiencing a mental health crisis with the appropriate responders, resources, and care. The “appropriate” responder here is crucial. In an effort to balance the needs of individuals and communities, this bill still maintains states’ and public entities’ hiring and recruiting authority for law enforcement officers and in no way limits their ability to intervene in dangerous circumstances. It is through such coordination and collaboration with law enforcement and the community that we make our communities safer.

By ensuring that a mental health professional is the responder in situations where a person is experiencing a mental health or disability-related crisis, this legislation will help keep some of the most vulnerable members of our community safe. 

This is a good bill that will help strengthen the communities we serve, and I urge all my colleagues to support H.R. 8542 today.