Durbin: Dems will back opioid bill even without funding

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump has exposed Democratic hypocrisy on prison reform House easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure MORE (D-Ill.) on Tuesday suggested his caucus would back an opioid abuse treatment bill even if Republicans reject a push to include $600 million in emergency money. 

"Oh we're going to support it, but we want the Shaheen amendment to pay for it," the Senate's No. 2 Democrat told reporters, referring to an effort by Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenJudd Gregg: 'Medicare for all' means rationing for everyone The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade MORE (D-N.H.). "I'm going to vote for the bill. I think most Democrats will, but we want it to be paid for." 
 
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Top Democrats have demanded for weeks that hundreds of millions of dollars in supplemental spending be folded into the opioid abuse legislation from Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanLongtime tax aide leaving Senate Finance Committee Ex-McConnell policy aide joining lobby firm WATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  MORE (R-Ohio) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems to Mnuchin: Don't index capital gains to inflation EPA extends comment period on controversial science transparency rule House easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump MORE (D-R.I.). 
 
Democrats overwhelmingly helped the legislation get over a procedural hurdle Monday evening, however. They have been tight-lipped on whether they would be willing to sink the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). 
 
 
Durbin, however, suggested that he didn't know what his Republican counterpart was talking about. 
 
"I'd like to ask my friend from Texas to show me the money," Durbin told reporters. 
 
Whitehouse appeared to back Durbin's comments on the Senate floor while suggesting that lawmakers need to do some soul searching and talk with constituents about the "right way to vote" on the Democratic push for funding.

"I will fight as hard as I can to make sure that this bill is adequately funded, but I do not intend nor do I know anyone who intends to block the passage of CARA or to interfere with it going into law over the question of funding," he said.
 
CARA 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 overdoses.
 
Democrats argue that the the emergency funding is needed to make sure communities who are fighting the overdose epidemic can get help quickly. 
 
Getting the opioid bill through the Senate would give Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell says he backs Mueller probe after classified briefing Overnight Finance: Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback | Snubs key Dems at ceremony | Senate confirms banking regulator | Lawmakers lash out on Trump auto tariffs Senate Dems’ campaign chief ‘welcomes’ midterm support from Clintons MORE (R-Ky.) an election-year win as both sides dig in for a bitter fight over President Obama's forthcoming nominee to succeed deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. 
 
It would also be an election-year boon for Portman, who faces a tough reelection bid and has put the drug crisis at the forefront of his campaign. 
 
Durbin, however, warned that voters would see through a "stunt" if Republicans support the Portman-Whitehouse bill but don't agree to include the funding pushed for by Democrats. 
 
"I think ultimately the public will see through it, if the Republicans won't pay for it and won't come up with the resources," he said. "Republicans who vote against paying for it ... have something to explain back home." 
 
—Updated at 6:02 p.m.