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Expand chart
Data: Opioid Prescribing Rates by Congressional District, United States, 2016. Note: The prescription rates are from 2016, but the map reflects the current representatives of the district. In Ohio’s 12th district, Troy Balderson is listed as the representative, but the race is currently too close to call. Correction: This map has been updated to use the previous district boundaries for Pennsylvania, before redistricting. A previous version of this map used the 2018 election district boundaries. Map: Kerrie Vila/Axios

The areas most flooded with prescription opioids are mostly represented by Republicans. The opioid crisis has taken a steep toll nationwide, but the South and Appalachia are particularly inundated with highly addictive prescription painkillers.

What's next: The House passed roughly 60 opioid-related bills in June; a timeline for getting a full package all the way to President Trump's desk is not yet clear. The administration — most notably the Food and Drug Administration — has also embraced new steps to help combat the addiction epidemic.

Between the lines: This is an association, not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship. The abuse of prescription painkillers is worst in the South and Appalachia, which are predominantly represented by Republicans.

  • And it's often worse in rural areas than in major cities — note how much the Atlanta area stands out from the rest of the Deep South for its comparatively low levels of opioids per capita.

The big picture: Members of Congress from those districts are likely to hear about the opioid epidemic during their re-election campaigns, even if they're not in competitive races — which heightens the urgency of getting the legislation to Trump's desk.

  • A CBS News poll in May found that nearly eight out of 10 Americans want the federal government to do more to address it.

Prescription opioids are the main target of the federal response so far. The House's package includes bills to change the way some prescription drugs are packaged and how patients return unused drugs.

  • But the epidemic has spread well beyond prescription drugs: Fentanyl and heroin are now associated with more overdoses than prescription drugs.

The big picture: Experts say Congress' efforts are a worthwhile start, but that the main thing Washington needs to do is come up with a lot more money for addiction treatment programs.

  • Public-health experts have praised the FDA for embracing medication-assisted therapy — products like methadone that help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal so people are less likely to return to more dangerous and addictive illicit drugs.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.