A leading sponsor of a Senate bill combating opioid abuse wants the House to take up that legislation instead of working on its own legislation.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said on the Senate floor Thursday that the House should pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which passed the Senate last month by a vote of 94-1. His remarks came on the same day that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote in an op-ed that the House would draft its own legislation to fight opioids.
"I hope that the talk of hearings and markups isn't an excuse to delay action," according to Portman's prepared remarks. "Because let me just say to my friends in the House, respectfully, the Senate has made your job a lot easier. We have already done the hard part."
Portman said that the House version of the CARA bill has 113 co-sponsors and has broad bipartisan support.
House leaders are opting to draft their own bills and address the issue that way.
McCarthy wrote in the Independent Journal Review that House leadership plans to bring the bills to the House floor next month. The bills address similar aspects of CARA, including focusing on prevention and treatment for opioid addicts.
However, it does not appear to address expanding access for first responders to the overdose antidote naloxone, a key part of the CARA legislation.
Portman didn't outright object to the House drafting its own opioid legislation, but urged the House to pass CARA as soon as possible.
"The House must act, and soon," Portman said. "I'm not going to be patient on this. This is urgent. This is a crisis."
Federal figures show that 72 Americans die each day from heroin and opioid painkiller abuse. Prescription drug abuse is often a gateway to heroin, as the drug is more readily available and cheaper than prescription drugs.