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Opioid Bill Easily Clears Senate Panel, But Dems Want More Funding

A bill authorizing almost $80 million in annual funding to address the nation’s opioid crisis passed unanimously through the Judiciary Committee Thursday. The bill, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, is expected to come to the Senate floor shortly after next week’s recess.

Democrats, while supportive of CARA, say it doesn’t do enough to address the opioid epidemic and would like to see more funding.

“We have to walk the walk, not talk the talk. To just authorize money and not actually put money to spend will do nothing to resolve the crisis. This is becoming something we see as a pattern,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at the committee markup.

“I want to make clear that in addition to this great bill…to make sure we have some actual money. We have an emergency here. Opioid addiction is an emergency,” he added.

The bill authorizes what has already been appropriated to the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services for fiscal years 2016 through 2020.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has introduced a bill that would provide $600 million in emergency funding for the opioid crisis. Schumer says that when CARA comes to the floor, he would like to see the Shaheen bill added as an amendment.