CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu, a two-term Republican, and the all-Democratic congressional delegation celebrated news the Trump administration that New Hampshire would be getting a 50-percent increase in its federal grant to battle the opioid crisis.
But they disagreed over how this came to pass.
There’s no disputing the news $11.9 million more will come to New Hampshire from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
This will bring the coming year’s grant total for New Hampshire to just under $33 million.
Sununu said he made the case last month with top Trump aides to give New Hampshire more.
“Here in New Hampshire, we are taking an innovative approach to tackling the opioid crisis and our federal partners in Washington, D.C., are taking notice. Last month, I sat down with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to highlight our state’s early success with the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant and made a strong request for supplemental funding as it becomes available,” Sununu said in a statement.
The delegation’s statements about the new money attributed the increase to Congress voting last September to increase anti-opioid grants to the states from $1 billion in 2018 to $1.5 billion this year.
“This additional funding is very welcome news and can immediately be put to use providing treatment to Granite Staters who desperately need it,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.
“Every life lost to an overdose is a tremendous tragedy and New Hampshire remains one of the states hardest hit by this crisis, which is why I’ve fought to make sure our state is prioritized in the funding process. These resources will help save lives and by continuing to work across the aisle, we can build on the progress we’ve made in this year’s budget process.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan said the delegation urged the Trump administration to make more grant money available.
“Turning the tide of this deadly fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic requires sustained federal resources to support those on the front lines of this crisis, and this additional $12 million to bolster treatment services in New Hampshire is an important step forward,” said Hassan. “I am encouraged that the Trump Administration heeded our calls for additional funding, but the greatest mistake anyone could make is to think that this fight is anywhere near over.”
Sununu failed to mention the work of the delegation and the delegation didn’t mention Sununu in playing any role in this dramatic increase in federal dollars to deal with the crisis.
Last week, Sununu said he was not ruling out a possible campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2020 for the seat Shaheen now holds.
Former NH House Speaker Bill O’Brien of Nashua and 2018 GOP nominee for the 1st Congressional District seat Eddie Edwards are also considering a Senate bid.
Shaheen has already announced she’ll seek a third term next year.