Addiction tearing America apart brings political opponents together

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The left and right share a sliver of common ground in DC. Political opponents join together to fight a common enemy: addiction.

“What can you do to bring 100 democrats and republicans together,” asked Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) rhetorically, “you have an issue that crosses every state line, every congressional district, and affects families all over this country.”

Fifty-six democrats and 44 republicans in the House are pushing eight proposed laws to loosen opiate-addiction’s ever-tightening grip on America. The Bipartisan Heroin Task Force wants to crack down on prescription problems, make treatment more available, and better assist veterans when addiction lands them in court.

Last year this group brought forward a similar agenda. Of the nine bills on that list, most are stalled.

A proposal to set medical care standards and get a patient’s addiction history into his or her medical records passed the Senate last summer. The drafter of a companion bill in the House – Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) – calls it common sense. But, that version has barely moved since last spring.

Walberg wants it to reach the President’s desk this year. “That will change lives, will save lives,” he said, “and will give opportunity for families and communities to go beyond this.”

Just this week, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) watched on as President Trump signed a bill aimed at better detecting opioids at the border. Brown praised that measure as a good first step, but said the country continues to dramatically underfund addiction treatment. “Eleven people a day in Ohio are dying from opioid overdose,” he said, “and Congress and the White House are just mostly twiddling their thumbs.”

Finding cash always complicates matters and this year’s push is short on time as well. That’s because with an election coming this November, lawmakers will need to spend time on the campaign trail, and away from the capitol.

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