National Institutes of Health

House Prepares for Week of Action on Opioid Bills
‘Collectively these bills do not go far enough’

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., participates in the House Democrats’ news conference on health care reform in the Capitol on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will begin a voting marathon Tuesday on 34 bills designed to address the opioid epidemic. While most are not likely to be contentious, two have previously stirred controversy.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reserved about a week and a half of floor time to discuss opioid legislation. Additional bills are likely to be considered next week, such as four bill packages the House Ways and Means Committee approved with bipartisan support.

The King of Town Halls Reflects on Face Time
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner talks about the mood of constituents, the most interesting questions and his smallest crowd

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner talks with some of his constituents in Watertown in February. (Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner via Instagram)

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is the king of town halls.

The Wisconsin Republican, who was first elected to the House in 1978, held the most of any member of Congress last year, when he racked up 115. Since 2011, he has held more than 500 meetings with constituents.

For Some in Congress, the Opioid Crisis Is Personal
Lawmakers share the stories behind their efforts to combat the epidemic

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson lost his grandson to an opioid overdose. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As drug overdoses climb — rising 12 percent between October 2016 and October 2017 — Congress has floated dozens of proposals to combat opioid abuse.

Some lawmakers have deeply personal connections to the epidemic of addiction in America. These are their stories.

Congress’ Focus on Opioids Misses Larger Crisis
‘All the bills are tinkering around the edges,’ one health official says

Targeting prescription opioids puts Congress years behind the crisis, which is largely driven by illicit nonprescription drugs. Above, heroin users at a New York City park in May. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By SANDHYA RAMAN, ANDREW SIDDONS and MARY ELLEN McINTIRE

Congress faced a startling public health and political problem throughout 2016 as the number of people dying from opioid addiction climbed. The number of Americans succumbing to drug overdoses more than tripled between 1999 and 2015, affecting a whiter and more geographically diverse population than previous drug crises. Lawmakers ultimately approved some modest policies aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse and provided $1 billion to support state efforts.

Childhood Cancer Measure Nears Bipartisan Win
Advocates had concerns over congressional, White House prioritizing Right to Try

Childhood cancer groups are pleased with the progress of the measure President Donald Trump is on the verge of signing. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Groups who push for progress against childhood cancer see President Donald Trump’s imminent signing of a bill to enhance research in the field as a significant win after they grew frustrated with Congress and the administration’s pursuit of higher-profile legislation to expand access to experimental treatments.

The cancer legislation would let the Health and Human Services Department set up demonstration projects for childhood cancer survivors. Even after successful treatment, these patients can experience effects from their cancer, such as cardiovascular issues, intellectual handicaps and emotional trauma.

Women on the Verge of a Breakthrough on House Appropriations
One-two punch on the panel would be the first since women led the House Beauty Shop Committee

Texas Rep. Kay Granger is one of five Republicans — and the only Republican woman — competing for the top spot on the Appropriations Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House of Representatives hasn’t had two women lead a committee since the Select Committee on the House Beauty Shop was eliminated in 1977.

All of that could change in January.

Opinion: From the Vatican, a Challenge to Bring Promise to Patients
Conference urges support for innovations in science and medicine in a collaborative, safe and ethical manner

The Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation hosted the “Unite to Cure” conference at the Vatican last month. (Courtesy the Cura Foundation/Unite To Cure: Fourth International Vatican Conference)

The power of medical research is rapidly moving from the lab to the patient.

Since the 21st Century Cures Act was passed in 2016, we’ve seen exponential progress in personalized, data-driven medicine and regenerative and gene therapies that will help prevent and treat disease, and even cure patients. Swift advances in science hold great promise for patients in need. At the same time, we must maintain our national standards for safety and ethical responsibility.

Roy Blunt: Playing the Inside Game and Scoring
Missouri’s GOP senator is proof the popular outsider play isn’t the only winning route

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., regained the chairmanship of the Rules and Administration Committee last week.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a political world where running against Washington has become one of the easiest paths to getting there, and where the ultimate outsider neophyte is president, Roy Blunt stands out as proof that the opposite approach sometimes still works.

Few in today’s Congress have succeeded as well, and for as long, at the inside game — where influence is cultivated and sustained by combining broad political and policy expertise along with deep interpersonal skill.

Hoyer Listening Tour Gathers Ideas for Unifying Economic Agenda
Latest iteration of Make It In America agenda can be used in quest for House majority

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., right, and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., left, tour Culimeta-Saveguard, an exhaust insulation manufacturing facility in Eau Claire, Wis., last week during Hoyer’s Make It In America listening tour.(Lindsey McPherson/CQ Roll Call)

MADISON, Wis. — As progressives and moderates battle it out in primaries, national Democrats like House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer are crafting an economic agenda their candidates can use to help them win back the House in November.

House Democrats across the political spectrum understand that without a strong economic message with crossover appeal, they will be relegated to another two years in the minority.

Senate Panel Unveils Draft Bill to Combat Opioid Addiction
HELP Committee expected to discuss legislation next week

The Senate HELP Committee, led by Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander and Washington’s Patty Murray, has already held six hearings on the opioid crisis so far this Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate health panel on Wednesday released a discussion draft intended to curb opioid addiction. The development comes as other House and Senate committees also prepare legislation.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee plans to discuss this legislation at an upcoming hearing on April 11. The panel has already held six hearings on the opioid crisis so far this Congress featuring representatives from agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as governors from states affected by the crisis.