But the minor question of how they’re going to fund the bill is still up in the air. And by “minor question”, we mean kind of a major sticking point for the bill’s survival!
Today the Senate finally passed the opioid abuse bill known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (or CARA). For months now there has been a back-and-forth in Congress over the specific aspects of CARA. Yet the discussion hasn’t revolved around the bill’s actual language, but how to fund it.
For those that don’t know, CARA is a piece of bipartisan legislation that deals with the growing opioid epidemic, in which opioid overdose deaths reached record highs according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2014. The bill specifically expands community access to treat opioid abuse which includes easier access to drugs like Naloxone (which counteracts opioid overdoses) and creating federal grants for local treatment and prevention programs.
For the most part, the bill has reached unprecedented support from both Democrats and Republicans. The problem however comes in how both sides want to fund the thing!
Senate Democrats insisted that an amendment for $600 million in emergency appropriation was needed to ensure that the bill would be appropriately funded. While Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, stood by their position that the $400 million included in last year’s omnibus spending bill can easily be redirected to fund CARA.
Even though Senate Democrats remain wary over where CARA will find its funding, the legislation still passed the Senate with a 94-1 vote. (Note: The only “No” vote came from Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, which if you want to let him know how you feel about his recent Senate vote, you can do so here!) The bill now goes to the House in hopes of passing there.
While Democrats are still skeptical on where CARA will actually find funding, both parties are relieved that the bill passed the Senate with little conflict.
It makes sense why a bill like CARA would pass in an election year. Both parties want to show that Congress can still legislate and it’s hard to see any constituent getting upset over a bill that helps fight opioid addiction. Still let’s all hope CARA gets funded and it doesn’t become just another toothless piece of legislation.
(Photo Credit: Pixbay.com)