Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, I rise today to join my colleagues in speaking about the opioid crisis as it's devastated families in states across the country. I want to thank my colleague, Senator Manchin, for organizing the speeches today. In my state, deaths from prescription drug abuse now claims the lives of more Minnesotans than homocides or car crashes. We lost our beloved Prince because of an opioid overdose. That's still being investigated.

But just as importantly, we have lost a student in Duluth and a mom in Rochester, Minnesota. Over 400 people in just the last year. And we continue to see dangerous synthetic opioids shipped across our borders in increasing amounts, a trend that U.S. Customs and Border Protection expects to continue as we heard in the Judiciary Committee last week. And today I joined Senator Portman in his Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and we talked about what's going on from that perspective as well. So while there is more work to do to combat this epidemic, I want to recognize first that we have made some meaningful progress on a bipartisan basis. 

We passed the CARA Act, something that was led by Senators Portman, Whitehouse, Ayotte, and myself. We have set a framework for the nation. But then we also know--and I look at this is three ways. The first way is that we have to do everything we can to prevent addiction. That means changing some of our prescription practices across the country. Do you really need 30 pills when you get your wisdom teeth out? Asking those questions, changing those practices.

The second thing would be to look at prescription drug monitoring. Senator Portman and I have a bill that would make it much more mandatory that states share their data across state borders. I found a guy in Moorhead, Minnesota, through his rehab, a counselor who had 108 different prescriptions for opioids from something like 80 different doctors in 50 different cities as he went from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. So that's why sharing that data would reduce greatly that doctor shopping. 

And then I see the Senator from Texas, Senator Cornyn here. And Senator Cornyn and I led a bill years ago to make it easier for people to throw away their leftover prescription drugs so they don't get in the hands of those that shouldn't be taking them. So those are ideas for reducing that demand.

And then you go to the next area which, of course, is trying to reduce the illegal drugs from coming in. And that's everything like the STOP Act, which Senator Portman and I have introduced, to make it harder to put these drugs in through the Postal Service to doing more with law enforcement. And then passing the SALTS Act, which is a bill that Senator Graham and I have introduced to make it easier for prosecutors--the President being a former prosecutor--for prosecutors to prove up cases with analogue drugs, where perpetrators basically take a substance, change it a little and then say, "Hey, it's a new drug," and then makes it harder for the feds to go after where they're not going to be able to get a medical doctor in to prove up what the substance is, to make it easier to prove these cases. So these are all very good ideas, but what we're getting here today to talk about is the issue of the funding and what will happen if we don't have funding for treatment.

We did a good job in the CURES Act last December where we made $1 billion over two years available, and as well as the work that was done on a bipartisan basis in the budget for the rest of the year. I consider those good signs. But unfortunately, the budget and the CBO score of the health care repeal bill release this week--the bill that came over from the House show us that we're at risk of moving backwards on this issue. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, mental health and substance abuse benefits would be cut under the health care bill, increasing out-of-pocket costs by thousands of dollars for those who need these vital services. This is on top of $839 billion in cuts to Medicaid under the bill and additional cuts in the President's budget of more than $600 billion to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program--even though these programs cover three out of every ten people with an opioid addiction. Three out of ten people. This would be devastating for so many if these budget cuts took effect. I would like to do more.

I would actually like to pass the LifeBOAT Act that Senator Manchin has introduced--I'm a cosponsor--that would simply put an extra fee on some of these opioids so the people who have been reaping the profits from these drugs would be helping to pay for the treatment. I think that's a great idea, but unfortunately, this budget takes us the other way and also eliminates programs that help rural communities build hospitals and get access to vital telemedicine services. And it cuts critical medical research happening at the NIH, just when at the end of last year, we added that money to the NIH funding. And just in the last month with the budget for the rest of the year we continued that positive trend. The budget also doubles down on other cuts that would hurt small towns and rural communities, impacting jobs and opportunties. It eliminates rural business programs that have helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs. It cuts rural housing programs and infrastructure grant and loan programs. Altogether, these cuts not only threaten the progress we've made to fight against the opioid crisis, but they also threaten the prosperity of the rural communities that have been hardest hit. We need a budget that helps and not hurts rural America, so we have a lot of work to do. 

I appreciate again the work of our Democratic and Republican colleagues in this Senate. As we have shown with the budget from the last month, for the rest of this year, we put some common sense in there and did a good job and got a lot of bipartisan support. And my hope is we will do the same thing here and make a smart budget, reject the one that has been proposed by this Administration and come up with something much better that helps and not hurts the people of our states. 

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.