(CNSNews.com) - "We have no place to put the children when we take them out of a drug-infested home," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told a panel discussion hosted by The Washington Post on Wednesday.
"Foster care is almost impossible to get," Manchin said. "We have people talking about orphanages again, to try to get them out of a drug-infested home."
Manchin, the former governor of West Virginia, said the opioid drug epidemic has devastated his state: "I have more deaths per capita than in any state. And it's affected every area of my state."
Manchin said treating addicts as criminals "never cured anybody." He said addiction is an ailment that requires treatment centers and education, beginning with pre-K.
The senator also plugged his LifeBOAT Act (Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment Act), which would establish permanent funding for substance abuse treatment by charging drug manufacturers one penny for each milligram of active opioid ingredient in prescription pain pills.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Congress on Wednesday that the nation is "in the midst of the deadliest drug epidemic this country has ever seen."
"Higher availability of drugs, lower prices, increased purity, along with the deadly substance, fentanyl, has resulted in climbing death tolls across this country," Sessions said in his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
He noted that 64,000 people died of overdoses in 2016, up from 52,000 in 2015. "Many of these deaths resulted from opioid overdoses that began with prescription drug addiction, and then moved to heroin and fentanyl."
Sessions told his former colleagues, "We need much stricter accountability in the manufacture and the prescribing and the distribution of...opioids." He also noted that most of the heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl that is fueling the drug crisis is brought in across the southern border.
"An important factor in our long-term success requires securing our borders," Sessions said.
President Trump has said he plans to declare a national opioid drug emergency next week.