White House stops short of veto threat against opioid bill

White House stops short of veto threat against opioid bill
© Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday slammed congressional Republicans for voting down new funding for bipartisan opioid legislation but stopped just short of saying President Obama would veto the legislation.

ADVERTISEMENT

“If there is a bill that reaches the president’s desk that is geared toward fighting the opioid epidemic but doesn't include additional funding, I certainly cannot promise that the president would sign it,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

Earnest accused Republicans of being “deaf” to calls from Democrats and public health experts who say that more funding is necessary to combat the opioid epidemic.

“Passing a bill that is doing little more than paying lip service to the problem falls woefully short of Congress’s basic responsibility," the spokesman said.

His comments came hours after GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate defeated Democratic attempts to add $920 million to an anti-addiction package.

GOP lawmakers opposed the new funding in part because the House Appropriations Committee has proposed a health spending bill that includes $581 million to address opioid abuse.

But that’s almost $500 million short of Obama’s $1 billion budget request.