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Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Opioid Crisis Bill

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A bill intended to combat the nation's deadly opioid epidemic was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate in a rare bipartisan vote on Monday.

The Senate voted 99 to 1 in favor of the "Opioid Crisis Response Act," with only Republican Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, voting against the bill.

Senate approval of the bipartisan package of over 70 proposals comes after the House passed similar legislation in June.

The bill includes provisions to help stop illegal drugs at the border, allow the FDA to require prescription opioids to be packaged in set amounts like a 3 or 7 day supply, and spur the development of a new non-addictive painkiller.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., noted the legislation includes proposals from five Senate committees and over 70 senators.

Alexander said he is "already working to combine the Senate and House-passed bills into an even stronger law to fight the nation's worst public health crisis, and there is a bipartisan sense of urgency to send the bill to the President quickly."

A statement from the White House commended the Senate for passing the bill, which it called a major step forward in the whole-of-government approach to combating drug demand and the opioid crisis.

Lee, the lone senator to vote against the bill, claimed the legislation includes dozens of new grant programs with little accountability for how the dollars will be spent.

"Good intentions are not enough," Lee said. "In the face of a crisis such as this, we cannot afford to waste precious funds on programs which likely won't work."

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