TRENTON -- President Donald Trump's decision to declare the opioid crisis in the U.S a "national emergency" will allow the government to respond to the epidemic in the same way it did to Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Chris Christie said Friday.
The emergency declaration was a cornerstone of recommendations made by a national commission on opioids Christie chaired -- and advice the White House initially ignored.
But after U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said such a declaration was unnecessary, the president reversed course.
"The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I'm saying officially right now it is an emergency," Trump told reporters at his Bedminster golf club on Thursday. "It's a national emergency. We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."
Calling into a live broadcast with Harry Hurley on WPG Talk Radio Friday morning, Christie did not address the White House's apparent change of heart, but said such a declaration would "make sure states get the resources they need to be able to address the emergency."
Trump now says he'll declare opioid emergency
Trump, who is spending August at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, convened members of his cabinet there earlier this week to discuss the recommendations of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
The timing was unusual because although the meeting was held in New Jersey, Christie -- who serves as its chair -- was vacationing in Italy.
The governor called into Hurley's program from his vacation abroad to praise the president's decision.
WPG's Harry Hurley with Gov. Chris Christie 08-11-17
The commission found the number of people killed by heroin and prescription opiates had reached epidemic proportions, creating a "9/11-scale loss" every three weeks, according to the governor.
Christie cautioned, however, that he was unsure of the final wording of Trump's emergency declaration, telling Hurley, "I've got to see the legal papers to it."
"The president is working, as I understand it, with White House counsel now to have the leaps and bounds of a national declaration of emergency written up," Christie said.
Christie said depending on the final wording, a state of emergency declaration would allow the government to mobilize federal agencies - from the Department of Health and Human Services to FEMA - in the same way they respond to natural disasters like Sandy.
Following Trump's remarks on Thursday, the White House said in a statement Trump had "instructed his administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic."
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