By Peter Sullivan - 02/25/16 12:56 PM EST
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellProgressive group changes tone on Kaine Trump hits Kaine on TPP: He supports a 'job killer' Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he plans to bring forward a bipartisan bill to fight the opioid crisis “in the coming days,” but a partisan fight lurks over the question of funding.
Democratic leaders say that while the bill is a good first step, it only authorizes funding and doesn't actually appropriate any funds. They are pushing an amendment from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenDemocrats ‘freaked out’ about polls in meeting with Clinton GMO labeling bill advances in the Senate over Dem objections Overnight Defense: US blames ISIS for Turkey attack | Afghan visas in spending bill | Army rolls up its sleeves MORE (D-N.H.) to add $600 million in emergency appropriations.
Election-year politics are also playing in; Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanUnion group backs GOP Sen. Portman in Ohio race Dem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security The Trail 2016: Trump’s big night MORE (R-Ohio), facing a tough reelection race, is a lead sponsor of the bill and has been touting his support.
In a press conference calling for adding funding to the opioid bill earlier this month, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerConvention shows Democrats support fracking, activists on the fringe Dem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security The Trail 2016: Unity at last MORE (D-N.Y.), the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, derided Republicans for “put[ting] the names of senators who are up for reelection” on bills without including new funding.
“I join the Republican leader on the need to address the scourge of opioid addiction,” Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDems put immigration front-and-center on convention's first day Dem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security Super-PAC targets Portman on trade MORE (D-Nev.) said on the floor Thursday following McConnell’s remarks. “It is a scourge. That’s why it’s more important than ever we back our words with real solutions, real resources. That’s why the amendment by Senator Shaheen to the opioid bill will be important and I hope it gets every consideration, and I hope it passes.”
McConnell’s earlier remarks on Thursday did not address the Democratic push for added funding, but instead noted that the bill has “garnered a great deal of support from both sides of the aisle.”
Earlier this month, McConnell’s office pushed back on Democrats’ argument, saying the regular appropriations process should be used and “we certainly hope that our friends on the other side of the aisle aren’t looking for a justification to try and block a bipartisan bill addressing a national crisis.”
CARA authorizes funding for a range of programs to fight the epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse, including education and prevention, as well as boosting the availability of naloxone, a drug to treat overdoses.
Some advocacy groups don’t want passage of the bill to be threatened by the funding fight.
The Harm Reduction Coalition wrote a letter to Senate leaders this week pressing for passage of the bill and raising “concerns” that some of the programs pushed by Democrats do not “achieve sufficient and timely impact to warrant emergency supplemental appropriations outside of regular order.”