Two major pieces of legislation to combat the nation’s opioid crisis received overwhelming Congressional approval and now await President Trump’s signature.
The legislation, both authored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is a rare example of bi-partisanship in an increasingly partisan atmosphere in Washington. The Senate vote was 98-1, while House approval last week was by a 393-8 margin.
The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery through Effective Employment and Reentry Act – or CAREER – expands grants and targets funding for treatment, transitional housing, job training and placement services to help individuals in recovery find their footing and maintain sobriety.
The second legislation, Protecting Moms and Infants Act, would refine federal efforts to combat the effects of opioids on expecting mothers and their unborn children.
McConnell, R-Ky., who introduced both bills, said both are important tools in fighting the scourge. “Community, health-care and business leaders agree that stable employment and transitional housing are vitally linked to helping individuals in recovery maintain long-term sobriety.”
A comprehensive crisis demands a comprehensive solution, said McConnell, who called it “landmark legislation.
“First, it will help cut off the opioid crisis at its roots. It will stop more drugs at the border, improve interstate monitoring, and encourage prescription reform,” he said. “It will encourage recovery by authorizing more resources for state and local responders, better access to care for patients, and more support for the families and caregivers of those affected.”
Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, calls the legislation a comprehensive step forward.
“Kentucky families are on the front lines of the battle against opioid and substance abuse and we are grateful for the help from the federal government to respond,” he said. “There are many innovative strategies in this bill that I believe can make the difference in our fight.”
Anthony Zipple, the CEO of Centerstone Kentucky, a Louisville-based agency offering mental health, substance abuse and other services, also applauded the passage.
“Work offers a predictable means of meeting financial obligations, a way of earning the respect of colleagues, and an opportunity to thrive in safe and sober environments. The CAREER Act will play a meaningful role in extending those in recovery a real chance to experience stability and the long-term advantages of gainful employment.”
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear also weighed in on the bills’ passage.
“The opioid crisis is the challenge of our times. It currently kills over 30 Kentuckians every week,” Beshear said. “We are committed to working with anyone who will help us save the next life that will be impacted by addiction. While we are still analyzing the legislation, more participation from our federal government is needed and certainly welcome.”