Senate GOP plots next steps on opioid 'epidemic'
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The Senate's Republican leadership is eyeing a path forward to tackle drug addiction as the issue comes under increasing scrutiny in the 2016 election.
 
 
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McConnell added that senators are "anxious" to see what legislation comes out of the Judiciary Committee and that he's hopeful lawmakers will be able to get legislation passed this year despite a shortened schedule. 
 
 
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Trump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Overnight Health Care: Pelosi to change drug-pricing plan after complaints | 2020 Democrats to attend Planned Parenthood abortion forum | House holds first major 'Medicare for All' hearing MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said that he expects Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill MORE (R-Iowa) will mark up legislation soon on the issue.
 
The moves in Congress could give Portman and Ayotte a local issue to focus on as they fight to keep their seats, providing distance from the divided presidential field.
 
Cornyn added that Ayotte and Portman appeared before their colleagues because of the "ongoing pandemic really occurring in their states and other parts of the country" on prescription drug and heroin abuse.
 
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) quickly pushed back on McConnell's comments, suggesting it would be a "shame" if lawmakers waited until the end of the year to try to pass legislation. 
 
"We shouldn't have a target for the end of the year. We should have a target as soon as possible," he told reporters. 
 
While Cornyn linked drug addiction to mental health by saying that the criminal justice system isn't "well suited" to handle either, he cautioned against tying the opioid push to his mental health legislation. 
 
"I'm not sure to what extent that makes sense," he told reporters. "You don't want to necessairly burden a piece of legislation with a lot of other provisions that are going to bog it down."