This week: Drug abuse bill hits Senate floor

The Senate plans to take up legislation addressing the opiod epidemic this week, while the House is expected to consider measures regarding Iran and environmental regulations.

Senators are poised to take up legislation from Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMisinformation campaign is at the center of opposition to common sense sex trafficking legislation This week: Congress races to prevent third shutdown With bills on the table, Congress must heed the call to fix our national parks MORE (R-Ohio) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Zinke grilled on travel, offshore drilling plans | Pruitt says California can't dictate emissions standard | Dems sound off on elephant trophy policy Overnight Energy: Dems probe EPA security contract | GAO expands inquiry into EPA advisory boards | Dems want more time to comment on drilling plan Opioid crisis spurs Medicaid funds push MORE (D-R.I.) aimed at combating heroin and prescription drug abuse. 

But the legislation—which passed out of the Judiciary Committee by a voice vote—is facing hurdles from Democrats who want to attach $600 million in emergency funding. They argue that the spending is necessary to get help immediately to communities ravaged by the addiction epidemic. 

While Democrats have sidestepped saying they will sink the larger bill if the provision backed by Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCompanies fretting over ‘foreign agents’ label Senators demand cyber deterrence strategy from Trump Overnight Cybersecurity: Dems ask voting machine vendors if they shared code with Russia | Senate panel advances bill reorganizing DHS cyber office | FBI chief talks new digital threats MORE (D-N.H.) isn't included, Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTrump presses GOP to change Senate rules Only thing Defense’s UFO probe proves is power of political favors Nevada Democrat accused of sexual harassment reconsiders retirement: report MORE (D-Nev.) stressed last week that the amendment should get "every consideration." 

The otherwise bipartisan bill authorizes—but doesn't appropriate—funding for programs to combat prescription drug and heroin abuse, in addition to increasing the availability of naloxone, a drug to treat overdose.

Republicans are hoping to avoid an unexpected floor fight that could threaten to stall the legislation, with Senate aides suggesting that negotiations are playing out at the leadership level. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate tees up Yemen vote for Tuesday Senate confirms Trump's border chief House leaves out ObamaCare fix from must-pass funding bill MORE (R-Ky.), separately, said late last week that he’s “hopeful we can reach an agreement to finish this bill with just a handful of amendments.” 

The ability to successfully navigate the legislation through the upper chamber would also be a boon to Portman, who faces a tough reelection bid. He's touted his efforts to combat drug addiction as he looks to localize his Senate race. 

Portman told The Hill last week that while he wants to keep his legislation non-partisan, he's open to having votes on amendments.

The Senate will take its first procedural vote Monday at 5:30 p.m. on whether or not to end debate on proceeding to the bill. The move will require 60 votes, including the support of at least six Democrats. 


The House is expected to vote Monday on a resolution that would call on Iran to assist with the case of Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who disappeared in 2007.

The Iranian government released five Americans detained in Iran in January after months of delicate negotiations with the Obama administration. Those citizens included Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, former Marine Amir Hekmati and pastor Saeed Abedini.

“Even as we rejoice in the safe return of others, we will never forget about Bob,” President Obama said at the time. “Each and every day, but especially today, our hearts are with the Levinson family, and we will not rest until their family is whole again.”

The FBI has offered a $5 million award for information that leads to Levinson.

Clean Air Act, Medicaid payments

The House has a relatively light workweek through Thursday, with only noncontroversial bills considered under suspension of the rules slated for consideration on Monday and Tuesday.

On Tuesday - the same day as the Super Tuesday presidential contests - eleven out of the 12 bills on tap are measures to name federal buildings.

A bill to prohibit federal payments for nonemergency services from providers that no longer participate in Medicaid, Medicare or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is expected to come up for a vote on Wednesday.

Thursday’s agenda will consist of legislation that would exempt the brick making industry from having to comply with Clean Air Act regulations for air pollutant emission standards.

Meanwhile, Republicans are still weighing their options for a budget this year. House GOP leaders initially envisioned scheduling floor votes on the budget for early March. But that goal has slipped given the intraparty divisions over whether to abandon last year’s budget deal, a move that would risk the fate of the appropriations process.