Monday, U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Doug Jones (D-Alabama) both voted in favor the Senate’s passage of H.R. 6, “The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.” The legislation passed by a vote of 99 to 1.
“I am proud to have supported this significant legislation that will aid in combatting a crisis that is affecting nearly every community in the nation,” said Senator Shelby. “We have worked in a bicameral, bipartisan effort to fight the dangerous opioid epidemic and present viable solutions for prevention. I look forward to getting this bill to the President’s desk for his signature.”
“Alabama has the highest rate of opioid prescriptions per person in the country and that comes at a steep and sometimes devastating cost for our communities and families,” said Senator Jones. “The opioid crisis has taken hold in every corner of our nation, and while we have seen some strides to turn that tide, we need to take an all-of-the-above approach to combatting this deadly epidemic. I was proud to support a comprehensive legislative effort through my work on the HELP Committee and I am glad to see several of the provisions I supported early on have been included in the final bill.”
The legislation includes the STOP Act, which helps improve detection of illegal drugs at the border. It also improves the sharing of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs data between states. Along with efforts to reduce the use and supply of these dangerous drugs, the bill aims to drive innovation and long-term solutions for the opioid epidemic, including spurring development of new non-addictive pain killers.
Last Thursday, the Senate and House Appropriations Conference Committee came to an agreement on H.R. 6157. The appropriations bill includes $3.8 billion for opioid funding, an increase of $206 million above the Fiscal Year 2018 enacted level.
Senator Jones is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Last month, Senator Jones hosted a roundtable discussion in Birmingham, Alabama with a diverse group of stakeholders to talk about the challenges that first responders, medical professionals, nonprofits, and the judicial system are facing in Alabama related to the opioid crisis. Jefferson, Walker, and Winston Counties are particularly hard hit by the opioid epidemic.
In April, Senator Jones cosponsored the bipartisan Senate version of OCRA, led by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Patty Murray (D-Washington), which passed the HELP Committee unanimously. Jones also cosponsored two provisions that were included in the legislation passed on Monday. Those provisions include the Jobs Plus Recovery Act, which establishes a pilot program to help recovering substance users access career training and services, and the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act, which mandates a report by the Surgeon General to study the effects of substances like synthetic drugs on young adults.bi
The bill includes provisions designed to crack down on shipments of fentanyl.
“It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China,” President Trump said. “We can, and must, END THIS NOW! The Senate should pass the STOP ACT – and firmly STOP this poison from killing our children and destroying our country. No more delay!”