White House makes last-ditch plea for opioid funding

White House makes last-ditch plea for opioid funding
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The Obama administration is pressing GOP leaders to devote more funding to the fight against addiction before Congress sends its major opioids bill to the president’s desk this summer.

The head of the White House’s drug policy office, Michael Botticelli, joined Management and Budget Director Shaun DonovanShaun L. S. DonovanHouse Dems call on OMB to analyze Senate budget plan Overnight Finance: Dems turn up heat on Wells Fargo | New rules for prepaid cards | Justices dig into insider trading law GOP reps warn Obama against quickly finalizing tax rules MORE in a call to action Friday to approve a fully funded opioids bill — an approach that was backed by a majority of senators on the floor this week.


“Congress has been voting on various pieces of legislation related to the opioid epidemic, but so far has not provided the resources needed to make treatment available to everyone who wants it,” Botticelli and Donovan wrote in a blog post published Friday afternoon.

The message from the White House came one day after the Senate voted to begin talks with the House to merge the two, mostly bipartisan opioid bills.

The same day, a majority of the Senate, 66 lawmakers, voted to support an earlier version of the bill that included funding. That move helps ensure that the issue of funding remains part of negotiations even though most of the Republicans appointed to the conference committee don’t agree with it.

Among the five Senate Republicans put on the committee, three — including the No. 2-ranking senator, John CornynJohn CornynPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week How the border deal came together MORE (Texas) — said they’d oppose funding in the bill.

From the start, Democrats — as well as some vulnerable GOP senators such as Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSteel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs Trade official warns senators of obstacles to quick China deal Lawmakers divided over how to end shutdowns for good MORE (Ohio) — have demanded more funding to help local health officials deal with a mounting death toll from opioid overdoses.

Most Republicans, however, have argued that more money wouldn’t solve the problem until more is known about how best to fight the epidemic. Several pieces of the GOP bills call for more studies into “best practices” nationwide.

House and Senate GOP leaders have touted their efforts on opioids as a top priority ahead of the fall general election, though the intraparty spat over funding has stalled the bills for months.

Several vulnerable GOP lawmakers joined the Democrats in calling for funding, including Sens. Portman, Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThe global reality behind 'local' problems Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE (Ill.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteUS, allies must stand in united opposition to Iran’s bad behavior American military superiority will fade without bold national action Five possible successors to Mattis MORE (N.H.).

The list also included several Republicans from states hit harder by the opioid crisis, such as Iowa, West Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia.

The five Republicans on the committee are Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech MORE (Iowa), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Congress must move forward on measure dealing with fentanyl GOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees MORE (Tenn.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown MORE (Utah), and Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war McCabe book: Sessions once said FBI was better off when it 'only hired Irishmen' MORE (Ala.).

The Democrats are Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph Leahy‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire How the border deal came together Winners and losers in the border security deal MORE (Vt.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators seek answers on surprise medical bills | Red states move to limit Medicaid expansion | Two drug companies agree to testify Senate Dems block Sasse measure meant to respond to Virginia bill MORE (Wash.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Dem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' Dems introduce bill to take gender-specific terms out of tax code to make it LGBT-inclusive MORE (Ore.).  

Senate Democratic leaders say they already have proof that opioid funding is a bipartisan issue.

Murray has called attention to her recent efforts with Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean Blunt‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration The border deal: What made it in, what got left out MORE (R-Mo.) on the health subpanel of the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve the first bipartisan spending bill in seven years. That bill included a $126 million increase in opioids-related programs over last year's total.

Democrats have called for at least $600 million in emergency funding to halt the epidemic.

Deaths from opioid drug overdoses hit an all-time record in the U.S. last year, rising 14 percent.