Today on the Hill: Debate Clock Ticks on Opioid Abuse Legislation

March 8, 2016

A procedural dispute in the Senate is holding up widely-bipartisan legislation aimed at curbing a growing opioid-addiction epidemic that lawmakers still hope to complete this week.  The Senate is scheduled to spend the day in post-cloture debate on a substitute amendment (#3378) to the legislation (S.524), which would expand treatment for opioid addiction.  Leaders in both parties said they expect the Senate to finish the bill this week. Still, the continuing disagreement over amendments could delay final passage several days if Democrats insist on using each of the 30 hours of debate after cloture is invoked on the substitute amendment and on the underlying bill. 

Among its provisions, the opioid measure would authorize grants awarded by the Health and Human Services Department and the Justice Department, including $15.9 million a year from fiscal 2016 to 2020 for HHS to treat pregnant and postpartum women. Authorized funds could be used for treatment and recovery services, alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders, law enforcement initiatives and programs to prevent overdose deaths and improper prescriptions.
Off the floor, Senate leaders are trying to finalize a path forward on legislation (S. 2012) to revise programs related to energy cybersecurity, efficiency, infrastructure and supply management. The energy legislation—at the behest of Senate Democrats—has been paired with a bill to help municipalities such as Flint, Michigan, clean up tainted drinking water supplies.  Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said late last week that a single Republican senator was delaying an agreement to consider the energy and Flint measures. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) indicated that he was objecting to an agreement on the Flint measure and the energy bill because “federal aid is not needed at this time.”
‘Today on the Hill’ includes updates provided by the House and Senate majority leaders, as well information derived from publications including Bloomberg Government, The Hill, Politico, Roll Call, and National Journal.