House panel to mark up opioid bills next week

House panel to mark up opioid bills next week
© Greg Nash

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will mark up legislation next Wednesday aimed at combating the opioid epidemic.

The April 25 markup in the panel’s health subcommittee comes as the panel's chairman pushes forward with his target of bringing a bill to the House floor by Memorial Day weekend. So far, lawmakers have reviewed more than 60 bills over three legislative hearings. 

The committee will mark up individual bills, rather than a consolidated legislative package. The vast majority of the bills from the legislative hearing will be included in the markup, which will begin in the afternoon to accommodate a joint session of Congress that morning, according to a GOP committee spokesperson. The full list will be released Monday.

“Combating the opioid crisis is Chairman [Greg] Walden’s [R-Ore.] top priority and the committee continues to move forward in its work to advance meaningful, bipartisan solutions,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.   

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“With this markup, we are on track to hit our goal of having legislation to the House Floor by Memorial Day.”

The opioid epidemic has ravaged areas across the country and shows no signs of ending. Deaths involving overdoses have been on the rise since 1999, and increased nearly 28 percent from 2015 to 2016.

In 2016, lawmakers passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), but advocates have been calling on Congress to do more to address the crisis, which results in more fatalities per year than car wrecks.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s legislative hearings earlier this year focused on three main areas: enforcement and patient safety; prevention and public health; and insurance coverage and treatment-related issues.

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Health Committee leaders introduced a bipartisan bill to combat the opioid epidemic, which the panel will mark up on Tuesday. A bipartisan group of senators has also released a bill known as CARA 2.0.

If the two chambers pass different bills, they will have to reconcile the differences before sending opioid legislation to President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE’s desk.