Hoeven Joins Senate in Passing Funding Legislation to Combat Opioid Abuse, Support STEM Education Opportunities

Senator Advanced Measures to Prevent Sale, Shipment of Illicit Synthetic Drugs, Which Passed Senate Earlier This Week

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today joined the Senate in passing Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 funding legislation to help combat the opioid abuse epidemic and support greater education opportunities, including in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. This follows the bill’s approval in conference committee, and it awaits consideration by the House of Representatives before being sent to the president to be signed into law.

“These investments support partnerships between federal, state and local health care and education providers,” Hoeven said. “That means we can better combat the opioid abuse crisis, while also empowering citizens across the state to lead healthy and productive lives. Ultimately, we are working to expand opportunities for families and individuals to achieve their goals, pursue valuable careers and build a better future for our state and nation.”

Combatting the Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Specifically, the legislation passed today:

  • Provides $1.5 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) State Opioid Response Grant, which includes a set-aside for Indian tribes and tribal organizations. 
  • Directs SAMHSA to prioritize efforts to combat opioid abuse in rural communities, similar to an amendment Hoeven included in the Senate’s farm bill. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug-related deaths are 45 percent higher, and overdose deaths are more likely, in rural areas.
  • Funds research related to opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management and addiction treatment.
  • Supports the opioid overdose prevention, surveillance and awareness campaign at the CDC.
  • Provides funding for Community Health Centers to support and enhance behavioral health, mental health and substance use disorder services. 

These funding measures complement Hoeven’s continued efforts to provide resources and support to combat the opioid abuse epidemic, including prevention, treatment, recovery and law enforcement efforts. To this end, Hoeven supported the Senate’s passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act earlier this week. 

This legislation includes language Hoeven worked on that aligns with his Illegal Synthetic Drug Safety Act, a bill to close a loophole that enables bad actors to circumvent the law and sell synthetic variations of drugs, like the powerful drug fentanyl, by labeling the products as “not for human consumption.” It also includes the Hoeven-cosponsored Synthetic Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which would require shipments from foreign countries sent through the U.S. Postal Service to provide electronic data. This will empower Customs and Border Protection to better target potential illegal substances like fentanyl and prevent it from being shipped into the country.

Expanding STEM Education

Hoeven is committed to advancing STEM education opportunities to prepare students for the jobs of the future and ensure the nation can continue to compete in the global marketplace. Further, the senator continues his efforts to expand North Dakota’s position as a hub of technology entrepreneurship and other high-tech businesses, the third wave in the state’s economic growth. Accordingly, Hoeven worked to ensure this funding bill provides:

  • $1.2 billion for Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, which can be used by all school districts to support STEM education.
  • Dedicated STEM funding within the Education Innovation and Research program.
  • Increased funding for Tribal Colleges and Universities as well as Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Career and Technical Education.