State News

Baldwin requests funding for opioid crisis while potential government shutdown looms

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and other Democratic senators wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking them to include funding to address the nation’s opioid crisis in the federal budget.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and other senators called Tuesday for the legislation to include funding for the growing opioid crisis, while Congress attempts to avoid a government shutdown.

A type of appropriation legislation, called a continuing resolution, is being negotiated in Congress to avoid a shutdown.

Unless Congress proposes a new spending bill and President Donald Trump signs it into a law, the federal government’s funding will run out Friday at midnight. Issues over many aspects of the legislation have been debated, including Trump’s contentious promise to establish a border wall with Mexico.

Members of both parties in Congress are to agree on a new spending bill. Many Democratic Senators, including Baldwin, called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to include an increase in funds to fight against the nation’s rising opioid problem. They also asked for additional funds dedicated to the National Institute of Health.

“While past Congresses have made promises about providing states with additional funding to address the ongoing crisis, appropriations legislation like the pending budget deal is where the bill comes due,” The 17-senator coalition wrote in a letter. “Americans are counting on Congress to live up to its commitment by supporting funding for the priorities that matter most in their lives.”

If the Continuing Resolution does not pass, most government services would be shut down, including National Parks and Museums. Passports and other permits may not be processed until the government starts back up again. Essential governmental agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, would remain operational.

It is unknown how long the government would be closed down. The last federal government shutdown in October of 2013 lasted 16 days, a result of a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democratic White House.

A government shutdown is also very expensive; the 2013 shutdown cost $2 billion, according to a report from the Office of Management and Budget.

However, Barry Burden, a political science professor at the UW-Madison, thinks a government shutdown is unlikely.

“Republicans who are in control of the White House and Congress don’t want to be blamed for a government shutdown,” Burden said.

The senator coalition explained that only 10 percent of individuals who need treatment for substance abuse receive it because there is a lack of funds to provide those services.

Burden felt that the request for funding toward opioid treatment to be included in the Continuing Resolution would receive bipartisan support.

“It is one area where President Trump and Democrats in Congress are in agreement,” Burden said. “It is difficult for Republicans to resist because it is so popular, and Democrats are taking advantage of that.” 

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