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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. DonovanJacobin Editor-at-Large: Valerie Jarrett's support for Citigroup executive's mayoral campaign 'microcosm' of Democrats' relationship with Wall Street Citigroup executive to run for NYC mayor: report House Dems call on OMB to analyze Senate budget plan 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 CornynTop GOP senator: Biden should be getting intel briefings GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results Trump keeps tight grip on GOP amid divisions 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 PortmanDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities 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 KirkSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length MORE (Ill.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 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 GrassleyLoeffler to continue to self-isolate after conflicting COVID-19 test results Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection More GOP governors embrace mask mandates, but holdouts remain MORE (Iowa), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDemocrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Trump nominee's long road to Fed may be dead end GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics MORE (Tenn.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line Bottom line MORE (Utah), and Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms MORE (Ala.).

The Democrats are Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyMcConnell wants deal this week on fiscal 2021 spending figures Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Senate releases spending bills, setting up negotiations for December deal MORE (Vt.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition DOJ investigation into Epstein deal ends without recommended action The Hill's 12:30 Report: What to know about the Pfizer vaccine announcement MORE (Wash.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans The FCC is trying to govern content moderation: It doesn't have the authority 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 BluntMcConnell wants deal this week on fiscal 2021 spending figures Graham becomes center of Georgia storm Republicans start turning the page on Trump era 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.