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Sen. Blumenthal and Other Dems Go Off-Topic During Debate on Opioid Bill

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal

Democrats in the U.S. Senate used debate on a bipartisan opioid abuse prevention bill to call for action on President Barack Obama’s eventual nominee to the Supreme Court.

The bill is a high priority for lawmakers, and they generally agree that elements of the bill -- more prevention and treatment programs, more resources for law enforcement -- will bring states closer to ending the deadly drug abuse epidemic. The opioid crisis has hit almost every state in the nation, including those in New England.

Most Republican senators earlier this week voted down a $600 million emergency-fund amendment.

From the Senate floor Thursday, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal is among those who said the bill is only effective if well-funded. But Blumenthal, and several other Democrats, didn’t stick to the topic.

“The voting on [the opioid bill] is within control of the majority,” Blumenthal started. “The majority also has the power and authority to say we will have a hearing and a vote on a Supreme Court Justice Nominee. We will do our job.”

Republicans fired back and criticized Democrats for taking floor time away from urgently needed opioid legislation.

Last month, Senate Republicans said they would block Obama’s yet-to-be-named Supreme Court pick, saying they won’t give any nominee a hearing.

NEPR's Jill Kaufman contributed to this report, which was originally published at NEPR.net.

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