White House makes last-ditch plea for opioid funding

White House makes last-ditch plea for opioid funding
© Getty Images

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 CornynGOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 Court-packing becomes new litmus test on left Cornyn shrugs off Trump criticism of 'SNL' 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 PortmanGOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget 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 AyotteSchultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid Bottom Line US, allies must stand in united opposition to Iran’s bad behavior 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 GrassleySeniors win big with Trump rebate rule  Klobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Just one in five expect savings from Trump tax law: poll MORE (Iowa), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderWhite House proposes limits on student loan borrowing as part of higher education reforms The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Trump issues first veto, warning of 'reckless' resolution MORE (Tenn.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchNY's political prosecution of Manafort should scare us all Congress must break its addiction to unjust tax extenders The FDA crackdown on dietary supplements is inadequate MORE (Utah), and Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump O'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump MORE (Ala.).

The Democrats are Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen Patrick Leahy sits at center of partisan judicial nominations Schwarzenegger blasts Trump budget for taking money from 'poor little kids' MORE (Vt.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWhite House proposes limits on student loan borrowing as part of higher education reforms Jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay M to woman who claimed baby powder gave her cancer Overnight Health Care - Presented by Kidney Care Partners - FDA chief Scott Gottlieb resigns | House Dems to take up drug pricing bills next week | Planned Parenthood, doctors group sue over Trump abortion rule MORE (Wash.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen Klobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — FDA issues proposal to limit sales of flavored e-cigs | Trump health chief gets grilling | Divisions emerge over House drug pricing bills | Dems launch investigation into short-term health plans 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 BluntThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems contemplate big election and court reforms GOP senator disinvited to Republican event over vote against Trump's emergency declaration Trump keeps tight grip on GOP 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.