House Republican leaders plan to hold a vote next month on legislation tackling heroin and painkiller abuse, a key issue to many members whose districts have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced the plan on Thursday, saying the vote will occur after committees working on the issue complete their work in the next few weeks.
“We want to build on efforts to prevent addiction and treat those suffering, crafting legislation that will gather bipartisan support and get signed into law,” McCarthy wrote in an op-ed in the Independent Journal Review. “The president’s own proposals to combat opioid addiction demonstrate that there is ample opportunity to reach a bipartisan consensus, and the Senate’s recent work to combat opioid addiction shows bicameral legislative interest.”
Last month the Senate passed legislation in a 94 to 1 vote that would attempt to address heroin and painkiller abuse by establishing grant programs to help state and local governments improve education and treatment, encouraging medical providers to reduce unnecessary prescriptions and giving local officials tools to lower the death rate from overdoses.
The House plans to consider several bills written by its members, instead of running with the Senate legislation.
The proposals under consideration include bills that would focus on improving education and treatment, create best practices for prescribing opioids, help babies born to addicted mothers and crack down on the illegal drug trade.
Also on the list is a bill from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) that closely mirrors the Senate-passed legislation.
Senators who steered heroin and opioid legislation through the upper chamber last month, such as Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), have been waiting for the House to take up the issue.
The opioid crisis has become a critical political issue for representatives of the hardest-hit states, such as Ohio and New Hampshire.