WATCH: Senate Dems unveil $3.5 billion spending bill to combat opioid crisis
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) unveiled the biggest piece of the spending package that Democrats unveiled Thursday night.
It includes $3 billion for a program that helps the states deal with drug overdose deaths.
Sanders and Wyden have long criticized President Donald Trump for not taking the opioid crisis seriously enough.
The president’s first budget proposed $1.5 trillion for the war on drugs.
The new spending bill, which has bipartisan support, would add another $3,000 for the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, which includes $1 million to combat overdose deaths and $1 billion for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which coordinates federal efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
The legislation also includes $800 million to expand access to prescription painkillers and $400 million to help state and local law enforcement agencies combat opioid use.
“We’re in the middle of a crisis in our country that is killing too many Americans,” Sanders said in a statement.
“The opioid epidemic has become a national crisis, and the American people are paying the price for the inaction of President Trump, who is refusing to act.
This is a time for bipartisan cooperation, and we must stop this crisis before it kills so many lives.”
The president, in a speech last week, said the government was not adequately responding to the opioid crises.
“I know that the President is listening,” Trump said, adding that he would seek a $1 trillion increase in spending.
“You know, I’m very frustrated with the President.
I don’t want to talk about him, but I think we have to talk.
And I think the President has to be held accountable for that.”
Wyden and Sanders released a joint statement that said the president’s “crisis response strategy does not include an end to the use of opioids or other illicit drugs by law enforcement officers.”
The senators said the bill provides funding to “strengthen the drug overdose prevention efforts of state and tribal law enforcement, as well as increase the availability of prescription opioids to all Americans.”
Widen said the legislation is an example of the president “putting himself and his allies ahead of law enforcement.”
The Senate passed the $3-billion package on a party-line vote Thursday, and it passed the House by voice vote.
Wyden has been outspoken about the opioid problem and has called for a public health emergency in the country.
He said in an interview on MSNBC last month that “the opioid crisis is a public safety issue, and our response must be an emergency response.”
In a statement, Wyden said that while the president and Republicans have made significant changes in recent months to federal drug policy, the president has failed to implement his own plan.
“Instead of being more aggressive in our response to the crisis, the President appears to be waiting until he is in office to implement the President’s prescription opioid policies, such as requiring employers to allow workers to take prescription pain medications, which the President now says will increase prescription drug abuse and addiction, instead of doing the job of public safety,” Wyden wrote.
The bill has a lot of bipartisan support.
Democrats included a provision in the Senate bill that would fund $1,000 to assist police agencies in dealing with opioid use in their communities.
Widen and Sanders have both introduced legislation to ban the sale and distribution of all opioids.
“What we’ve seen over the last five years is the opioid abuse epidemic in our states and across the country has gone from an epidemic to an epidemic,” Sanders told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Thursday.
“When you talk about the deaths of Americans, people are dying, people have lost their jobs, and millions of Americans are suffering from addiction and are at risk of losing their lives.”