This Week in Congress: E-Verify, Spending, and Opioids

The big event this week is the vote on an immigration “reform” bill containing the mandatory E-Verify National ID scheme. As of right now, the vote is expected on Thursday. Call your U.S. Representative at (202)-225-3121 and tell them to vote NO on the E-Verify National ID Database!

The U.S. Senate will be taking up the House-passed H.R. 5895, which combines the Legislative Branch, Energy and Water, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bills. For more on that legislation see here.

The Senate may also consider H.R. 3, the House-passed rescissions bill. For more on the bill see here.

Last week was opioid week. Here are the results of some of the votes:

  1. H.R. 5735 creates a demonstration program for federally funding housing for recovering addicts. Passed by a vote of 230-173, with 7 Republicans voting no. The 166 Democrats who voted no did not do so because they object to federally-funded housing programs but because the bill did not authorize spending new money; instead, it directed funds from existing accounts.

Here are the seven Republicans who voted no:

Justin Amash (MI-03)

Mo Brooks (AL-05)

John Duncan  (TN-02)

Matt Gaetz (FL-01)

Thomas Garrett (VA-05)

Thomas Massie (KY-04)

Mark Sanford (SC-01)

You can see the roll-call vote here.

  1. H.R. 5891 creates a federal task force to improve federal responses to the opioid crisis. Eight Republicans voted against it. You can see the roll-call vote here.


Here are the Republicans who voted no:


Andy Biggs (AZ-05)


Louis Gohmert (TX-01)

Paul Gosar (AZ-04)

Walter Jones (NC-03)



  1. H.R. 5327 creates a grant program to authorize comprehensive opioid recovery centers.  Thirteen Republicans voted no:




Ken Buck (CO-04)





Jody Hice (GA-10)



Tom McClintock (CA-04)

Dana Rohrabacher (CA-04)

Roll-call vote here.

In addition to E-Verify, the House will also consider more legislation expanding government’s role in health care and other areas in the name of fighting the opioid epidemic. For example, H.R. 5797 allows states to “temporarily” apply for federal permission to use Medicaid funds for mental health institutions that help people with problems related to opioid addiction.

The House will also consider H.R. 6082, which extends medical privacy protections (good) to those treated for health problems related to drug use. Unfortunately, it also extends “civil rights protections” to these people, meaning they can force employers to hire them and landlords to rent to them (bad).

H.R. 6, yet another bill that throws even more taxpayer money at opioid abuse prevention. The bill sets up many new programs and expands others in Medicaid and Medicare among other things. The bill authorizes spending federal funds to engage the use of non-opioid pain relievers for post-surgical pain management. This is a fine idea but how is this the role of government?

The bill also authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider the risk of addiction when approving new pain control drugs. This could lead to patients being denied the most effective pain management drugs as the FDA “encourages” use of less effective non-opioid treatments.

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul wrote about the war on opioids as a war on pain patients here.

The House will also be considering the following bills under suspension:

  1. H.R. 3192—Requires states to offer mental health and substance abuse programs as part of the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This is yet another costly mandate and something states should decide if they want or not.

  2. H.R. 6042 —Delays the reduction in federal funds for Medicaid services furnished within an electronic health care record.

  3. H.R. 4005—Makes Medicaid available for those recently released from prison.

  4. H.R. 5590—Requires the Center for Medicare and Medicaid to develop a plan to treat opioid addiction and provides reimbursement for medicine-based treatments.

  5. H.R. 5687—Amends Food and Drug Act to change regulations regarding packaging and disposal of certain drugs.

  6. H.R. 5796—Creates a grant program to support organizations working to curb unnecessary  opioid prescriptions from the Medicare prescription drug program.

  7. H.R. 5801—Changes requirement for prescription drug monitoring under Medicare.

  8. H.R. 5773—Requires Medicare prescription drug programs to create prescription drug management programs for beneficiaries at risk of abusing prescription drugs (maybe a good idea but should it be mandated? Flexibility and lack of bureaucratic control were supposedly key to the GOP’s approach to programs like Medicare.)

  9. H.R. 5774—Requires Center for Medicare and Medicaid to provide guidance to hospitals on dealing with opioid addiction.

  10. H.R. 5762—Creates a new joint task force in Homeland Security to stop illegal crossings at the border (because the current efforts are such a smashing success).

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