Senate takes step forward on opioid bill

Senate takes step forward on opioid bill
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The Senate on Thursday took a step toward bridging the gap with the House on legislation intended to combat the opioid epidemic. 

The upper chamber voted 95-1 to set up a conference committee with the House that will seek to iron out the differences between the chambers’ bills. Only Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill Antitrust enforcers in turf war over Big Tech Exclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan MORE (R-Utah) voted no. 

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Opioid legislation is seen as one of the few areas where a bipartisan bill could be signed into law this year, given the breadth of the addiction problem and the fact that many vulnerable lawmakers have talked about the issue in their campaigns. 

The Senate’s version of the legislation, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), would authorize grants for educational programs, the anti-overdose drug naloxone, programs to monitor prescribing practices and other initiatives against the abuse of heroin and prescription opioid painkillers. 

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCost for last three government shutdowns estimated at billion The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Ohio), a lead sponsor of CARA who is facing a difficult reelection race, called the vote Thursday a “big step.” He is pushing for it to be signed into law as soon as possible.  

Democrats have called CARA a good first step but have also called for more funding to fight the epidemic. In March, all but five Republicans voted down a Democratic amendment from Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenMeghan McCain: Lewandowski Senate run would be 'an absolutely ridiculous crap show' Super PAC targets Lewandowski with ad amid Senate speculation Lewandowski 'very, very close to announcing' decision on Senate run MORE (D-N.H.) to add in $600 million in emergency funding to fight opioids. 

However, on Thursday, the Senate adopted a measure from Shaheen to instruct the conference committee to include funding in its final product, though it did not specify the amount. The measure was approved 66-29, with 24 Republicans voting in favor. 

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayEXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Trump's sinking polls embolden Democrats to play hardball MORE (D-Wash.), a member of the conference committee, said in a statement that she is “pleased” that both parties agree there is an opioid crisis but added that “efforts will fall short without additional investments.”