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Murray, Wyden, Leahy, Shaheen Continue Work on Opioid Epidemic, Introduce Legislation to Fund Needed Treatment & Recovery Efforts

Republicans blocked multiple attempts to include critical investments in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to ensure policies have full impact


New legislation introduced by Senators would provide $920 million in funding for states to improve and expand treatment and recovery programs


Senators: If we’re going to rightfully recognize this as a public health crisis, we need to fund it like the crisis it is—period.


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Expanded Access to Treatment and Recovery Act, legislation that would provide $920 million in funding to give states the tools and resources to invest in treatment of and recovery from prescription opioid and heroin abuse.


Yesterday, the Senate voted 92-2 to approve and send to the President’s desk the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), legislation agreed in conference to address our nation’s opioid and heroin epidemic. While CARA authorizes a number of bipartisan policies and programs to tackle this epidemic, including allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine, there is no direct funding in the legislation to actually implement the law.


Legislation introduced today by Senators Murray, Wyden, Leahy, and Shaheen would provide states real, substantial funding and resources to meaningfully address this crisis. The Senators insist that Republicans allow a vote on this immediate funding with the fiscal year end quickly approaching on Sept. 30.


“While we took a step in the right direction by passing legislation to change our nation’s opioid policies, Republicans unfortunately refused to work with us to provide the funding cities and states need to tackle this epidemic head-on,” Senator Murray said. “For too many families suffering as a result of this epidemic, there’s no ‘later’ and there’s no ‘next time’. That’s why my colleagues and I are introducing a new bill today that lays out a clear plan for investing desperately needed resources in tackling opioid addiction—so that families and communities actually get the relief they are calling for. I hope all of my colleagues will join me in supporting our bill—especially since so many of us, on both sides of the aisle, agree that new investments in treatment and recovery are absolutely necessary.”


“The action taken by the Senate yesterday was a half measure,” Senator Wyden said. “Without proper funding to support important addiction treatment and prevention programs around the country, that legislation will be little more than an empty promise to families suffering around the country. Our bill gives Congress an opportunity to fulfill that promise.”


“The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act represents progress in fighting opioid and heroin abuse, and I was proud to be a cosponsor. Unfortunately, the bill falls short because it does not provide the resources necessary to support the prevention, treatment, and recovery programs that our communities need,” Senator Leahy said. “Republicans in Congress must commit real resources to efforts to fight addiction. The legislation we are introducing today provides new funding and treats addiction as the public health crisis that it is. It is time for Congress to dedicate the emergency dollars needed to fight it. It is time for Congress to fully fund CARA.”


“Fentanyl use is surging in New Hampshire and our state is expected to reach almost 500 opioid related deaths this year,” Senator Shaheen said. “Yet, Congress still has not provided the funding needed to address this epidemic. This legislation would provide a substantial increase in funding to treatment providers and first responders across the country in the coming years. Those on the frontlines need resources to adequately respond to this epidemic and this bill funds the longer term fight to stem the tide of addiction in our communities.”