Jul 13, 2016 10:45 PM
NH1 News Political Director
Despite a partisan fight over funding, a sweeping bill aimed at helping New Hampshire and other states fight back against the heroin and opioid epidemic is on its way to becoming law.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, better known by its acronym CARA, overwhelming passed the U.S. Senate on Wednesday night by a 92 to 2 vote. The measure, which passed the House by an equally lopsided vote last week, is now headed to the White House, which says President Obama will sign the legislation into law.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte was one of the four co-authors of the original bill, which the Senate passed by a landslide vote in March. In an interview with NH1 News a couple of hours before the bill won final approval in the Senate, Ayotte called the measure “really important,” adding that “it’s something that I worked on for over two years. It’s very bipartisan.”
New Hampshire’s Republican senator co-authored the bill with fellow GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, as well as Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
In a statement, Ayotte said “this important legislation will bring a comprehensive approach to the opioid abuse epidemic and authorizes resources for treatment, prevention, recovery and first responders, as well as makes important policy changes that will better assist those who are struggling.”
The measure also promotes alternatives jail time for those with substance-abuse problems, and expands first-responder access to naloxone, which reverses the effects of an overdose. And the bill allows more health-care providers to administer medication to fight opioid addiction.
While the initial Senate vote in March, as well as last week’s House passage and Wednesday’s final passage in the Senate were bipartisan, Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over the funding of the bill to expand addiction treatment and prevention programs.
Congressional Democrats touted the substance of the bill, but argued that without the federal funds to back up the measure, it would be more symbolic than affective. Last week a push by Democrats to add more than $900 million in new funding for CARA was defeated by Republicans, who argue that increased spending should be dealt with separately, when Congress takes up the annual spending bills.
President Barack Obama had pushed for even more funding, asking Congress for $1.1 billion in the White House budget for the 2017 fiscal year.
“While the President will sign this bill once it reaches his desk because some action is better than none, he won’t stop fighting to secure the resources this public health crisis demands. Congressional Republicans have not done their jobs until they provide the funding for treatment that communities need to combat this epidemic. The President and Administration officials will continue to press Republicans to respond to this crisis,” the White House said in a statement following the Senate’s final passage of CARA.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who signed onto the bill, said “CARA is good bipartisan legislation that sets the country in the right direction but it doesn’t address the immediate need for funding first responders and treatment programs in our communities.”
“Without funding, Congress is offering a life preserver with no air in it. As written, CARA-related funding would likely reach New Hampshire in two years, and as any police officer or treatment provider in New Hampshire can tell you, they desperately need these resources today. I will continue to call on Congress to rise to meet this challenge and appropriate emergency funding as it has done in previous health emergencies,” New Hampshire’s two-term Democratic senator added in a statement.
Ayotte: ‘Going to continue to fight’ for funding
Ayotte told NH1 News that she agrees that more funding is needed.
“I’m going to continue to fight. I’ve supported efforts along with Sen. Shaheen for emergency funding for the heroin epidemic. So we’ll continue to fight for that and build on the funding that has already been allocated that Is double over prior years, to get that to New Hampshire.”
But Ayotte added that “already the money from last year’s appropriations bill has come down to the state and is still being distributed by the state level. So getting the money here quickly is a priority.”
“We’ll move this as quickly as we can and I’ve asked Health and Human Services to expedite that funding and I’ll continue to do that,” Ayotte added.
Ayotte also said the CARA bill isn’t the end of the fight.
“There’s a lot more work to be done to turn this around and I know that this is a huge public health crisis in New Hampshire. I’m going to continue to do everything I can, not only passing this legislation today, but continuing to fight to make sure that we support all the efforts on the ground in New Hampshire to turn this around,” Ayotte told NH1 News.
Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster, who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District, was one of the leaders of the push to pass CARA through the U.S. House of Representatives.
“While I remain disappointed that this legislation did not include emergency funding to address the epidemic, the funding authorizations and programs it does include are vital to the success of our efforts to stop the opioid epidemic. As the co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, I pushed for passage of CARA, and I look forward to working with local communities in New Hampshire to help them take advantage of the new programs contained in this bill to increase access to treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts,” Kuster said in a statement.
Gov. Maggie Hassan also weighed in on the passage of CARA. New Hampshire’s Democratic governor, who’s challenging Ayotte this year in one of the most high profile, expensive and negative Senate battles in the country, praised the bill but also criticized a lack of funding for the measure.
"As Vice Chair of the National Governors Association Health and Human Services Committee, I have worked with my fellow Governors in urging federal action to support states as we work to combat the heroin and opioid crisis with a comprehensive strategy to support law enforcement and strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts,” Hassan wrote.
“The federal Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act reflects some of the priorities that we have pushed for with the National Governors Association, and I am glad to see bipartisan recognition of the need to address the issue, but that must be backed up by emergency federal funds, which unfortunately Congress has failed to do. Here in New Hampshire, we have worked across party lines to provide additional resources to those battling this horrible epidemic on the front lines, and we need Washington to do the same,” she added.
Numbers released earlier this week from New Hampshire's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner indicate that at least 161 people have fatally overdosed so far this year. The report projects at least 494 overdose deaths by the end of 2016.
19 hours 15 minutes agoA Manchester woman allegedly threatened to poop on an officer's leg following a domestic assault incident. (More)
11 hours 33 minutes agoA Florida woman was charged after crossing the yellow line and colliding with another vehicle head-on in Rochester. (More)
21 hours 55 minutes agoSupporters of convicted murderer Pam Smart launched a Twitterstorm to support her release after she coerced her teenage lover into killing her husband. (More)
20 hours 51 minutes agoThe Manchester Police Department awarded a man - who recently evicted the tenants from his Derry home following a shooting - officer of the...
23 hours 19 minutes agoA local carpentry company was slapped with a fine earlier this month by OSHA as they investigate a truss collapse that occurred last year...
11 hours 58 minutes agoA snowmobiler was found dead on a trail Monday from an apparent collision with a tree after failing to return home Sunday night. (More)
Mar 26, 2017 9:35 PMPolice said a sex offender kicked down a door and then assaulted a man. He is charged with burglary, simple assault and possession of...
1 day 53 minutes agoThe advisory warns of mixed snow, sleet, freezing rain for central and northern areas today. A brief period of freezing rain will occur closer...
Mar 25, 2017 7:52 PMA South Carolina man who wrapped electrical tape around a dog's muzzle to stop her from barking has been sentenced to five years in...
Mar 26, 2017 5:59 PMOfficials transported a young child to a local hospital with minor injuries after they allegedly ran into a moving car. (More)
Mar 26, 2017 10:40 AMA Hooksett man faces charges after he allegedly pushed his girlfriend twice and choked her, impeding her breathing. (More)
Mar 26, 2017 12:29 PMChichester Fire and Rescue extinguished a heavy kitchen fire, leading to the death of household pets. (More)
Mar 26, 2017 11:43 AMPolice allegedly found crack cocaine and heroin on a man wanted on an arrest warrant. (More)
Mar 25, 2017 9:34 AMA Tilton felon is facing drug and gun charges after police allegedly saw him slumped over the wheel of his car Saturday around 1...
Mar 24, 2017 5:19 PMWhile executing a search warrant, police seized what is believed to be psilocybin mushrooms, marijuana, and butane honey oil. (More)
Mar 25, 2017 4:30 PMPolice arrested a woman after she left her 2-year-old in her running vehicle while she shopped at Target Saturday. (More)
Mar 25, 2017 2:54 PMThe newly appointed deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee says the Democratic party can't spend all of its energy focusing on Republican President...
Mar 24, 2017 9:33 AMNew Hampshire State Police arrested to wanted fugitives after stopping a van full of people who entered the United States illegally. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 3:59 PMTwo influential members of New Hampshire’s state Senate predict that a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession will pass their chamber. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 3:51 PMSnow fell faster than expected today, accumulating a few inches in parts of central and northern New Hampshire through late-afternoon. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 12:39 PMA woman is facing drug charges after being found in possession of heroin during a parole check-in. She was arrested for possession of a...
Mar 23, 2017 4:16 PMState Police rearrested a Wales man for stealing electricity from a Central Maine Power pole and transformer. (More)
Mar 23, 2017 4:59 PMA Stafford County corrections officer allegedly tried bringing thousands of dollars of drugs into the jail was supposed to get deployed. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 11:09 AMIt's the first Friday of spring, but Granite Staters will have some snow to deal with. (More)
Mar 24, 2017 9:02 AMThe effort to crack down on drug-related crimes - known NH-wide as Operation Granite Hammer - led to the arrests of 2 suspected heroin...
Mar 23, 2017 3:02 PMA Keene man was indicted for allegedly strangling two of his then-girlfriend's cats. (More)
Mar 23, 2017 1:28 PMDemocrats filed a complaint with the ethics committee arguing Sununu violated rules against using his position to secure advantages for himself or others. (More)
Mar 22, 2017 5:27 PMNicole Guida, owner of Chic & Unique, a boutique shop located in Littleton, is requesting a jury trial against a former customer who caused...
Mar 22, 2017 6:02 PMA Strafford County corrections officer allegedly attempted to bring heroin into the jail before being detained by police. (More)
Mar 22, 2017 11:01 AMChelsea Blais plead not guilty to abusing children in her care at the Alpha Bits Learning Center, where police say she force fed and...
Mar 22, 2017 10:15 AMNYPD seized over $4.1 million and over three kilograms (6 pounds) of heroin, unraveling a multi-state drug ring — involving New England. (More)
Mar 22, 2017 4:06 PMNew Hampshire is often in the 'weather battle zone' this time of year, which isn't a good thing if you are looking for spring...
Mar 22, 2017 10:45 AMNew Hampshire’s top public officials Wednesday marked the death of state Sen. Scott McGilvray. The first term Democratic state senator from Hooksett and president...
Mar 22, 2017 7:33 AMThe National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory from 10 a.m. Wednesday to midnight. (More)
Mar 21, 2017 10:29 PMA report released on Tuesday by the state agency that licenses childcare centers revealed multiple incidents of verbal and physical abuse committed by a...
Mar 21, 2017 6:40 PMA mother and her friend who injected her with heroin while she was in labor in September 2016 will not be facing felony charges...
Mar 21, 2017 4:09 PMA 74-year-old Mass. man living in public housing for the elderly faces drug trafficking charges after police say they found cocaine valued at about...
Mar 21, 2017 12:09 PMDerry Police say a home was shot at and struck at least 6 times early Tuesday morning, but no one was hurt. (More)
Mar 21, 2017 12:26 PMA woman has been charge with assault against three infants at a Manchester day care center. The three victims are all younger than 1-years-old....
Mar 20, 2017 4:05 PMA man who pleaded guilty to supplying a person in Rochester with a deadly dose of drugs will spend between 8- and 16-years in...
Mar 20, 2017 4:01 PMOnlyInYourState.com has provided nine places in the Granite State where you might be able to spot a ghost. (More)
Mar 20, 2017 2:31 PMPolice are searching for a man who allegedly punched and injured another man at a diner in Manchester. (More)
Mar 20, 2017 3:56 PMA 21-year-old man destroyed his family home after trying to exterminate ants with wooden matches, killing their two cats and a dog. (More)
Mar 20, 2017 4:14 PMA state representative cited house rules when she told a New Hampshire man to stop recording a committee meeting - rules that apparently do...
Mar 19, 2017 5:08 PMA new kind of roller coaster experience is set to premiere next month at Six Flags New England. (More)
Mar 20, 2017 9:40 AMAuthorities say Super Bowl LI and Super Bowl XLIX jerseys "found in the possession of a credentialed member of international media." (More)
Mar 18, 2016 10:37 AMA drug sweep on Thursday afternoon and evening netted four arrests, a pound of suspected cocaine and $7,000 in cash. (More)
Mar 19, 2017 11:56 AMDisney's live-action 'Beauty' was a beast at the box office, opening with an estimated $170 million in North American ticket sales and setting a...
Mar 19, 2017 10:06 AMToll booth workers could be a thing of the past under a bill before the New Hampshire House. (More)