But the measure also is a major feature of Portman’s re-election bid this year against former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. Portman has blanketed the state with TV commercials pointing to his role in pushing the measure through Congress.
The bill would authorize Congress to spend $181 million annually during the next five years with a greater emphasis on treatment. But while the bill authorizes the spending, Congress will need to follow with a spending measure to appropriate the money.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who voted for the measure, said “while we have taken a bipartisan step forward today, this bill alone is not enough. We must recognize the opioid epidemic for what it is — a public health emergency — and invest the real dollars it takes to combat it.”
The House approved the same measure last week by a vote of 407-to-5.
The bill aims to counter the growing addiction to both illegal heroin and legal opioids, which are prescription drugs such as Percocet and oxycodone. The National Institutes of Health reports as many as 2 million Americans are addicted to opioids and heroin while the Centers for Disease Control reported 28,000 people died in 2014 because of drug overdoses.
Earlier this year, musical superstar Prince died because of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, an opioid often used to mitigate the impact of other drugs.