This week, the House of Representatives passed 10 of 18 new bills put forward that are designed to combat opioid addiction; this should be hailed as a victory—one that should take the nation one step closer to ending the insidious epidemic. Unfortunately, the legislation may not have a leg to stand on due to insufficient funding, USA Today reports. After the bills were passed this Wednesday, the White House doesn’t believe that $1 billion is enough to fund the programs attached to the bills.
In March, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) which many believe—especially democrats—lacks the funding necessary to be fully effective. It is worth noting that the House’s ten bills will be combined with CARA. The new legislation covers a number of important areas specific to preventing and treating opioid addiction. Just to get an idea, the new bills voted on would:
- Authorize the creation of an interagency task force that would review, modify and update opioid prescribing practices.
- Require states that receive federal grants for child protective services to enact laws or programs to ensure the protection of babies.
- Give law enforcement more authority for fighting drug trafficking.
- Make it easier for doctors to provide treatment for patients addicted to opioids.
The House bills much like CARA only authorizes $725 million for federal grants, but does not allocate any actual funds, according to the article. Senate democrats tried to pass an amendment to CARA that would allocate $600 million in emergency funding to the bill, but republicans voted it down. A similar effort unraveled with the House bills, democrats put forward an amendment to allocate $600 million in emergency funding for the bills—like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act republicans voted against a funding increase.
“We need to not only pass these bills, but we need to commit in a bipartisan way that we’re going to provide the necessary funding, and I hope we can do that,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “If we don’t do that, all the speeches that we give this week will amount to empty rhetoric.”