A federal bill aimed at helping states tackle the ongoing heroin and opioid epidemic cleared a major hurdle Thursday.
The measure calls for roughly $70 million over the next three years to help expand treatment for people battling addiction while in prison and drug prevention efforts in schools. It would also strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs.
The bill easily passed the U.S. Senate on a 94 to 1 vote and now heads to the House.
U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire have been strong advocates for the bill in Washington. "There are lives on the line - so I'm calling on the House of Representatives as well to take this to the floor immediately, to get this bill passed, to get it to the President's desk because we cannot afford to wait," Ayotte said during a press conference at the Capitol.
But how much of that money will go to New Hampshire has not been decided.
A Senate amendment calling for $600 million in emergency funds to help first responders and treatment providers combat drug addiction was denied.
“Any police officer or treatment provider in New Hampshire can tell they desperately need resources today,” said Shaheen, who crafted the amendment. “Not a year from now. Not two years from now--but today. CARA is good legislation but it will only help fight the heroin pandemic in the long term."