Opioids

Capitol Ink | Opioid Hill

Capitol-Ink-10-18-17

Obama Calls for Congressional Action on Criminal Justice Bill
Says more investment in opioid treatment will save money and lives

Sen. Michael S. Lee, R-Utah, speaks with Weldon Angelos last June. Angelos was sentenced to 55 years in jail for selling marijuana under mandatory minimum prison guidelines, but was released early. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Barack Obama said Congress could adopt measures to change sentencing laws, control guns and curb the opioid epidemic to continue an overhaul of the nation’s criminal justice system.

“There is so much work to be done,” Obama wrote in a Harvard Law Review article released Thursday by the White House. “Yet I remain hopeful that together, we are moving in the right direction.”

Opioid Epidemic Enters Funding Debate
Some Democrats said the GOP proposal was "smoke and mirrors"

From left, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, have been fighting for money to combat the opioid epidemic. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposal to keep the government funded included one below-the-radar addition: funding to combat the opioid epidemic. While senators in both parties support addressing the issue, the move had some Democrats crying foul.

The Kentucky Republican unveiled last week a draft continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 9, after spending talks stalled between Senate leaders. His proposal included $37 million in annual funds for implementing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or CARA, which became law in July.

Lawmakers See Synthetics as Growing Drug Abuse Challenge
But actions raise concerns among drugmakers over legislative overreach

The musician Prince — seen here performing in Toronto in 2015 — died in April from what Minnesota officials said was an accidental overdose of self-administered fentanyl. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for NPG Records 2015 File Photo)

Lawmakers are trying to draw attention to a rapidly emerging overdose crisis caused by synthetic drugs, less than two months after a bill to combat prescription opioid and heroin abuse was signed into law.

The opioid measure included provisions that make it easier for the government to prosecute drug traffickers, but synthetic drugs pose a different kind of challenge that wasn’t addressed in the legislation. While most drugs are on a list of controlled substances, synthetics can escape law enforcement scrutiny if the chemists who make them tweak their formulas slightly.

Ep. 21: Funding Feud, Political Plotting & Deadly Drugs
The Week Ahead

 

Three weeks before the government runs out of money, Congress has two options: a three-month extension of current spending favored by most lawmakers or a six-month fix pushed by a group of House conservatives, says CQ Roll Call’s Budget and Economics editor Jane Norman. Each option has political advantages and pitfalls, which CQ Roll Call’s senior editor David Hawkings spells out. On another front, soon after lawmakers passed a bill to deal with the epidemic of opioid abuse, they’re confronted with the dangerous presence of lab-made synthetic drugs like fentanyl, blamed for hundreds of overdoses, including that of music icon Prince.

Ep. 10: Conservatives Ready to Surrender Passing Spending Bills
The Week Ahead

Show Notes:

Congress Struggling to Finish To-Do List Before Summer Break
Action on gun control, Zika, opioids, appropriations remains uncertain

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent believes there are a number of House members who would like to go on record against terrorists being allowed to buy guns. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With only seven working days left before a seven-week break, the House and Senate may adjourn without taking any meaningful action on gun control, Zika funding, opioid abuse and several outstanding appropriations bills.  

The Senate already held a series of failed votes on gun control and the House has yet to vote on the issue. A Republican counterterrorism bill that includes a provision to halt a gun sale to someone on the terrorist watch list for three days unless the government can produce evidence that the person belongs on the list does not have the support to pass the House. It remains unclear whether it can be tweaked to garner enough support before the summer recess.   

Where Things Stand as Congress Leaves Town
Key issues linger as lawmakers go on recess

Reps. Scott Rigell of Virginia, right, and Reid Ribble of Wisconsin ride their motorcycles outside the Capitol after the last votes Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is heading out of town for Memorial Day recess, but lawmakers still have plenty of items on their to-do lists.  

Members on both sides of the aisle have pushed for action to address issues ranging from the Zika virus to authorizing defense programs. With roughly two months worth of legislative days left in 2016, here's a look at what's going on with some of the top issues in Congress:

What Rubio Learned on the Campaign Trail About the Heroin Crisis
Part of aggressive agenda at Western Hemisphere subcommittee

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said his Senate subcommittee is keeping an eye on developments in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with the Alliance for Prosperity initiative between the three countries and the U.S. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Usually when people talk about the lessons of an ill-fated White House bid, they are referring to what's been learned about political strategy.  

But the scourge of opioid addiction is so clear in the state that played host to the first-in-the-nation primary that Sen. Marco Rubio can't forget it.