Congress to Send Bill Combatting Heroin Abuse to President Obama

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), center, and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), far right, have heavily promoted their work on the opioid bill during their re-election campaigns this year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), center, and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), far right, have heavily promoted their work on the opioid bill during their re-election campaigns this year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Congress this week is expected to send President Obama legislation to combat heroin and painkiller abuse, despite lingering disputes over whether there is enough funding to support new treatment and prevention programs.

Senate Democrats have pushed for additional funding arguing that without it the bill will not be able to deliver on its promise to help thwart the opioid epidemic.

But they do not plan to block the agreement that House and Senate negotiators finalized last week, according to a spokesman for Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). It’s unclear how many Democrats will support the bill, but it is expected to easily be approved just in time for the height of the election season.

The House passed the legislation Friday on a 407 to 5 vote. All House Democrats voted for the bill despite decrying its lack of funding.

The bill would create or modify existing education, prevention and treatment programs and put more life-saving anti-overdose drugs in the hands of first responders.

Republicans and Democrats will continue wrangling over whether there should be additional funding later this year when final spending bills are debated.

“We can’t do it on the cheap,” Reid said last week. “And that’s what they’re trying to do.”

Democrats are also expected to make what they see as a lack of funding for the opioid crisis as well as the Zika virus and the water emergency in Flint, Mich., an issue on the campaign trail when lawmakers depart Washington at the end of the week for a seven week break.

For many Republicans in tough re-election contests, Congress cannot pass the opioid bill soon enough.

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SOURCE: Karoun Demirjian 
The Washington Post