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.

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“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 CornynDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks 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 PortmanSenate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats House passes bill to establish DHS cyber 'first responder' teams Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump 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 KirkEx-GOP Sen. Kirk registers to lobby The global reality behind 'local' problems Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year MORE (Ill.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteKey endorsements: A who's who in early states Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race New Hampshire senator to ask 2020 Dems to back repeal of state residency law 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 GrassleyGrassley raises concerns about objectivity of report critical of GOP tax law's effects Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights Key Trump proposal to lower drug prices takes step forward MORE (Iowa), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Horse abuse for ribbons and prizes has to stop Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds MORE (Tenn.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (Utah), and Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake Nikki Haley blasts Roy Moore's Senate bid: 'He does not represent our Republican Party' Time magazine: Trump threatened reporter with prison time MORE (Ala.).

The Democrats are Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyThis week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Congress unlikely to reach deal on Trump border bill before break GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (Vt.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Chris Murphy may oppose bipartisan health bill unless it addresses ObamaCare 'sabotage' Key senators release bipartisan package to lower health care costs MORE (Wash.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Grassley announces opposition to key Trump proposal to lower drug prices Exclusive: Trump administration delayed releasing documents related to Yellowstone superintendent's firing 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 BluntThis week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request GOP senators divided over approach to election security The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back 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.