In Rare Moment Of Unity, The Senate Passed A Bipartisan Bill To Fight The Opioid Crisis

The legislation passed with a 98 to 1 majority, marking a significant achievement for Congress.

The Senate has passed the final version of a new bill aimed to address the national opioid epidemic from prevention to treatment and recovery.  With a 98 to 1 vote to pass, the legislation marks a rare bipartisan accomplishment for an increasingly divided Congress.

The newly passed bill combines a bunch of smaller proposals from hundreds of different lawmakers into one sweeping package, according to The Washington Post. The 600-page measures expands a range of programs and policies across multiple federal agencies to allow increased access to treatment and rehabilitation.

Some of the proposed measures in the new bill include a grant program for comprehensive recovery centers addressing both mental and physical care and increased Medicaid coverage for care at addiction treatment facilitates. Per The Hill, the legislation also cracks down on the import of opioids from other countries, which has further fueled the epidemic in the United States.

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The overwhelming vote in favor of the bill, which will now be sent to President Trump's desk, follows months of bipartisan work. Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah was the only senator to vote against the proposed legislation. The bill's passing marks one of the year's biggest achievement for Congress, which has become embroiled in an increasingly hostile battle over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in recent weeks.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the lead sponsor of the bill, addressed the matter in a statement to The Washington Post, saying, "We are in the midst of contentious disagreement about the Supreme Court. But at the same time, we have an urgent, bipartisan consensus, a virtually unanimous agreement, to deal with the most urgent public health epidemic facing our country today in virtually every community,"

The bill is already earning praise from public health advocates for its proposal of comprehensive treatment. But some experts and lawmakers say the new legislation still does not provide enough long-term funding to adequately tackle the growing health crisis. As of now, Congress has allocated $8.5 billion this year for opioid-related programs. But though Trump declared the opioid crisis "a national emergency" in 2017, there's still no guarantee of funding for subsequent years.

While the new bill marks a major step in the battle against the national opioid crisis, some senators are pushing for more legislation that will further address the problem over the long term.  According to The Boston Globe, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings have already proposed committing $100 billion over 10 years to fighting the opioid epidemic.

Cover image via Golden Brown / Shutterstock.com.

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