Funding secured to combat Ohio opioid epidemic

Staff reports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has announced Ohio will be among the first in line to receive opioid funding secured in the omnibus spending package released this week. The package also includes $65 million to fund opioid detection devices and equipment called for in Brown’s INTERDICT Act, which President Trump signed into law earlier this year. The devices will help Customs and Border Agents detect and stop dangerous drugs like fentanyl before they enter the U.S.

Congress is expected to pass the spending bill by the end of the week.

“For too long, Ohio communities have been desperate for the federal government to step up and provide the necessary resources to effectively combat the opioid epidemic,” Brown said. “While we know there is more work to be done, this funding is a meaningful step forward for Ohio. By investing in local communities and supporting law enforcement through the INTERDICT Act, we can better address the opioid crisis in our state.”

Opioid Funding

Brown originally announced $6 billion in opioid funding as part of the long-term spending agreement Congress reached earlier this year. The spending package Congress will vote on this week outlines how the first $3 billion of that money will be spent. At Brown’s urging, the package specifically prioritizes the hardest-hit states, like Ohio.

How does it work?

State Targeted Response (STR) Grants account for $1 billion of the $3 billion allocated in the spending package.

15 percent of that grant funding will be specifically reserved for states like Ohio that have been hardest hit. Ohio can also qualify for money from the additional 85 percent.

In March, Brown wrote to key members of appropriation committees requesting increased investment in programs like STR that prioritize Ohio.

The omnibus funding is in addition to the $27 million in grant funding Ohio is expected to receive this year from the 21st Century Cures Act, which Brown supported.


The spending package also authorizes funding for opioid detection devices outlined in Brown’s INTERDICT Act, which President Trump signed into law this year, to provide new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities and personnel for 24×7 lab support. The money will be used to:

Provide more portable chemical screening devices at ports of entry and mail and express consignment facilities and additional fixed chemical screening devices available in Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) laboratories.

Provide CBP with more resources, personnel and facilities — including scientists available during all operational hours — to interpret screening test results from the field.

Several state and national law enforcement organizations, including the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, have endorsed the INTERDICT Act.

Bipartisan support

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) also supported Brown’s bill and Brown is supporting Portman’s STOP Act, which is also endorsed by law enforcement. The two bills work together to help block the deadly drugs from reaching Ohio communities.

Meanwhile, Portman announced that the final FY2018 appropriations bill also includes more funding for evidence-based programs authorized by Portman’s Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) in 2016.

“This is good news for Ohio and good news for the millions of Americans who continue to struggle with addiction,” Portman said. “One of our goals in introducing CARA 2.0 was to provide appropriators with a road map for how best to increase funding for evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery programs that work. I’m particularly pleased that the bill includes $60 million for states to develop an infant plan of safe care to help newborns exposed to opioids and their families. This is what we asked for in CARA 2.0, and I am thankful that appropriators addressed our concerns on this issue.

“I’m also pleased that there is $500 million for the National Institutes of Health to further research opioid addiction and new non-addictive pain therapies. We are making progress in increasing resources for CARA programs that we know work, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on important legislation like CARA 2.0, the STOP Act, and other common-sense solutions to effectively respond to this crisis,” he said.

Portman has been a leader in the fight for more funding to combat this crisis. Portman worked to secure $1 billion in new funding for state grants to combat opioid abuse in the CURES Act, and $181 million annually in discretionary spending for new evidence-based programs authorized by Portman’s CARA law. Recently, Portman introduced the bipartisan CARA 2.0 Act to build on the success of CARA, provide additional resources to help turn the tide of addiction, and put in place policy reforms that will strengthen the federal government’s response to this crisis.

Staff reports