Senate approves bill to combat opioid addiction crisis

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to address the nation’s opioid crisis, sending to President Obama's desk the most sweeping drug legislation in years in a rare instance of consensus in Congress.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to address the nation’s opioid crisis, sending to President Obama's desk the most sweeping drug legislation in years in a rare instance of consensus in Congress. The measure, which passed, 92 to 2, would strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, largely by empowering medical professionals and law enforcement officials with more tools to help drug addicts. It would also expand access to a drug that emergency medical workers could use to help reverse overdoses and improve treatment for the incarcerated. President Obama is expected to sign the bill. Tensions over spending threatened to derail the measure as Democrats insisted the Senate also vote on immediate funding to pay for the programs the bill authorizes. Republicans said funding would be addressed in the appropriations process later this year. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who has long pushed for improved policies on opioid and heroin addiction, said he was optimistic the Senate Appropriations Committee would fully fund the policy measure—which, he said, calls for increasing overall funding by 47%.