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Sharing anecdotes about the impact of the opioids crisis in Washington state, Senator Murray cheers passage of sweeping package to tackle growing opioid epidemic; bill now heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law 

Senator Murray: “The opioid crisis is ongoing, and our efforts to address it must be as well. So I’m going to keep listening to people in Washington state about what they need to respond to this crisis, and working with my colleagues here in Washington D.C. to provide resources and solutions that can help make a difference”

As top Democrat on Senate health committee, Senator Murray has worked extensively to find federal solutions to help end the opioid crisis in WA, nationwide – LINK

ICYMI—Senator Murray in Sedro-Woolley’s City Scene: “National Opioid Response Must Listen to Local Stories and Support Solutions” – LINK

***WATCH VIDEO OF SENATOR MURRAY’S FLOOR SPEECH HERE***

(Washington, D.C.)  – After several months of work from Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate to address the root causes and ripple effects of the growing opioid epidemic, today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) cheered Congress’ bipartisan commitment to finding federal solutions as the Senate passed new legislation to help stem the tide of the opioids crisis. In a speech on the Senate floor, Senator Murray cited stories from her travels across Washington state hearing from patients and others about the pain and challenges of overcoming opioid use disorder, and highlighted how the bill will support state and local efforts to help patients, families, and communities navigating the challenges of substance use, including provisions to strengthen federal investments in support for training to help out-of-work individuals, increase support for state efforts to help pregnant women and infants impacted by opioid misuse, expand access to treatment services, support trauma-informed care programs, provide more support and flexibility to states to help tribal communities and others address the most pressing problems associated with substance use disorders, and more. The bill passed the Senate 98-to-1, and will now go to President Trump to be signed into law.

“Earlier this year I heard from an elementary school principal in Washington state about how the opioid crisis was hurting the kids in his school. “Students at his school were having trouble focusing in class as they dealt with the trauma of a family member’s substance use at home. And some teachers were having trouble understanding how best to help these students with their trauma. I also heard from the staff at a hospital about how they deliver many babies to mothers struggling with opioid addiction. Many are born with neo-natal abstinence syndrome—battling the symptoms of withdrawal. And I’ve heard from countless other families across Washington state about how the opioid crisis has impacted their loved ones. Our communities have been crying out for action to address the root causes and ripple effects of the opioid crisis that has caused so much heartbreak for so many people—and today we’re taking an important step to answering that call,” Senator Murray said prior to the bill’s passage.

Senator Murray continued, highlighting the need for continued vigilance from lawmakers and other stakeholders to help bring an end to the opioid epidemic: “I’m glad we could include so many voices in this discussion, and that it led to a bill that offers so many ideas to address the different angles of this crisis. And I look forward to seeing this bill become law so that it can start helping families and communities as we work to reach everyone impacted by this nationwide fight against opioid use disorder. Of course while this is an important bill and an impactful step forward, it is not a final step by any means.”

As the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, Senator Murray has worked at length to help find federal solutions to the growing opioid epidemic in Washington state and nationwide, including successfully strengthening federal investments in efforts to curb opioid misuse, and travelling extensively throughout the state over the past several years—from Everett to Seattle to Longview to Richland, and more—to meet with patients, families, health providers, medical professionals, law enforcement officials, community leaders, and others to better understand the impact of the opioid epidemic on families and communities. In Washington D.C., Senator Murray has shared these stories with her Senate colleagues as she has worked for policies that helped address their needs, and was an early champion of the legislation passed today.

Watch video of Senator Murray’s floor speech HERE.

Full text of Senator Murray’s floor speech below.

“Thank you M. President.

“Earlier this year I heard from an elementary school principal in Washington state about how the opioid crisis was hurting the kids in his school.

“Students at his school were having trouble focusing in class as they dealt with the trauma of a family member’s substance use at home.

“And some teachers were having trouble understanding how best to help these students with their trauma.

“I also heard from the staff at a hospital about how they deliver many babies to mothers struggling with opioid addiction.

“Many are born with neo-natal abstinence syndrome—battling the symptoms of withdrawal.

“And I’ve heard from countless other families across Washington state about how the opioid crisis has impacted their loved ones.

“Our communities have been crying out for action to address the root causes and ripple effects of the opioid crisis that has caused so much heartbreak for so many people—and today we’re taking an important step to answering that call.

“The legislation we’re passing today includes a wide set of policy solutions, from both sides of the aisle, to help tackle this problem from many different angles.

“Many people helped craft this legislation and offered their own valuable insights, ideas, and solutions—and I’m grateful to all of them.

“I especially want to thank the Committee leaders in both chambers who did so much to bring this together. Senators Wyden, Feinstein, Alexander, Hatch, and Grassley here in the Senate…

“And Congressmen Pallone, Neal, Nadler, Walden, Brady, and Goodlatte over in the House.

“I’m also grateful to Leader Schumer and Leader McConnell and several others who were particularly helpful in this process.

“Thank you Senators Heitkamp, Donnelly, Markey, Hassan, Casey, Manchin, McCaskill, Baldwin, Nelson, Kaine, and so many more.

“And of course I want to thank my staff and the many other members of staff that worked on this as well.

“The bill we crafted together is a meaningful bipartisan compromise. It’s not what I would have written on my own, and I know it’s not what any one of my colleagues would have written on their own.

“But it’s a collection of impactful common sense solutions where we were able to find common ground.

“Ideas that respond to the root causes and the ripple effects our communities are facing.

“It includes support for state efforts to improve plans of safe care for children born to mothers battling substance use disorders—like those at the hospital I visited.

“And ensures the Health Department is implementing strategies already identified to protect moms and babies from the effects of opioid substance use.

“It includes provisions to develop a taskforce and grants to help support trauma-informed care programs, and increase access to mental health care for children and families in their communities—including at schools like the one that principal told me about.

“And provisions to build on critical public health activities to prevent opioid misuse from occurring in the first place.

“It includes provisions to address the economic and workforce impacts of the opioid crisis like support for training to help the nearly one million people out of work due to opioid use disorder to gain and retain employment, as well as provisions to strengthen our behavioral health workforce, so that patients and families can access treatment they need.

“It continues meaningful grants that help states address the most pressing problems associated with substance use disorders in their communities, and makes those grants more flexible and available to our tribal communities who are suffering deeply with the impact of substance use disorders.

“It expands access to treatment services by making more providers eligible to prescribe medication assisted treatment. 

“And it includes provisions to help the Food and Drug Administration address the crisis as well, like giving it new authority over packaging and disposal of opioids.

“As well as so many other steps to help those on the frontlines of this epidemic.

“I’m glad we could include so many voices in this discussion, and that it led to a bill that offers so many ideas to address the different angles of this crisis.

“And I look forward to seeing this bill become law so that it can start helping families and communities as we work to reach everyone impacted by this nationwide fight against opioid use disorder.

“Of course while this is an important bill and an impactful step forward, it is not a final step by any means.

“The opioid crisis is ongoing, and our efforts to address it must be as well. So I’m going to keep listening to people in Washington state about what they need to respond to this crisis, and working with my colleagues here in Washington D.C. to provide resources and solutions that can help make a difference.

“I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation. And I yield the floor.”