Portman calls on House to pass legislation on opiate epidemic

Published 1:58 pm Thursday, March 17, 2016

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, D-Ohio, is calling on the House to pass a version of his Senate legislation he says is aimed at combatting the opioid epidemic.

The Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act passed the Senate in a bipartisan 94-0 vote last week.

“The House needs to act,” Portman said in a conference call with reporters. “The issue of heroin addiction affects all states and Congressional districts. This will provide help back home.”

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Portman’s office said CARA would expand prevention and educational efforts, focusing heavily on teens and parents, to prevent abuse and to promote treatment, would make the opiate overdose recovery drug naloxone more widely available to law enforcement agencies and first responders, provide resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction, increase the number of disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications, launch an evidence-based treatment and interventions program and strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs.

Portman said the House version of the legislation has 92 sponsors and that he’s optimistic the House will move on it.

“I’ve had good conversations with House leaders, including Speaker Ryan” he said.

Portman also used the call to give an update on the Senate investigation of the website Backpage.com, for which, as chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, he issued a subpoena on the company’s business prices.

Backpage.com, a commercial sex advertising website, has been linked to hundreds of reported cases of sex trafficking, including cases of trafficking of children, he said.

Portman said the web company has refused to produce documents and has refused testimony.

“They have refused to comply with a subpoena and have said it’s a First Amendment issue,” he said. “We intend to take them to court.”

Portman said, as a result of the company’s refusal to cooperate, the Senate is set to move on a civil contempt vote against Backpage.com.

“This will enable us to complete our work,” he said. “And it will ensure the Senate does its duty to address the facts and address the problem through legislation.