December 19, 2019

Opioid Crisis Response Programs Championed by Whitehouse Get Major Boost in Year-End Funding Bill

Whitehouse establishes program to find cure for pancreatic cancer; Criminal justice reforms receive robust appropriations; Whitehouse’s coastal resiliency fund lands 10 percent increase

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today announced that the year-end appropriations bill passed by the Senate includes $378 million for the Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act grant programs, an increase of $31 million over the previous year’s funding levels.  Whitehouse partnered with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to write the sweeping Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to tackle the opioid addiction crisis that continues to grip Rhode Island communities.  The legislation has guided the federal response to the epidemic since it was signed into law in 2016.

“Too many Rhode Island families from all walks of life are facing the many struggles that come with having a loved one suffering from the disease of addiction.  In our small state, the addiction epidemic is creating enormous ripples through entire communities,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “I’m pleased that this funding bill will provide reinforcement to the health care and public safety personnel who are doing the important, difficult work on the front lines of this crisis.” 

The bill also enables the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs to empower state and local prisons to administer more than one form of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for addiction.  There were 314 overdose deaths in Rhode Island last year, according to Rhode Island Department of Health data.

The appropriations bill includes a number of other provisions secured by Whitehouse:

  • At Whitehouse’s urging, the bill establishes a federal research program to find a cure for pancreatic cancer with an initial $6 million investment.  The bill also includes $20 million to boost research into treatment for ALS.
    • The appropriations bill includes robust funding for criminal justice reform initiatives, including $75 million for implementation of the First Step Act, a Whitehouse measure that was signed into law last December. 
    • The funding bill includes $33 million – a 10 percent increase over last year’s funding level – for the National Coastal Resilience Fund to restore and strengthen natural infrastructure that protects coastal communities.  Whitehouse wrote the legislation that created the fund.  Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) received a $280,000 grant from the inaugural round of funding of the National Coastal Resilience Fund last year, and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management last month received a $60,000 grant to aid in the restoration of Quonochontaug Pond in Charlestown and Westerly.
    • $183.5 million for NOAA’s Cooperative Institutes supporting research into the oceans, weather and air chemistry, and climate change.
    • Whitehouse’s bipartisan Securing Energy for our Armed Forces Using Engineering Leadership (SEA FUEL) Act directing the military to research technologies that will capture carbon dioxide from air and seawater and convert it to useful products was allocated $8 million.
    • $40 million for the research and development of negative emission and direct air capture technologies at the Department of Energy (DOE), continuing the Senator’s work on creating incentives for developing carbon removal technologies.

 

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