GOP senator on passage of heroin bill: 'Life or death issue'

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte used the GOP weekly address to draw attention to the heroin and prescription opioid abuse epidemic across the country, including the Granite State, highlighting her role in a Senate bill aimed at the issue.

"This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It affects all of us," the Republican senator said in the pre-taped Saturday address.

New Hampshire is among states hit hardest by a rise in abuse of heroin and prescription opioids like OxyContin. Approximately 420 residents of the state died last year due to drug overdoses, Ayotte said, more than the number who died in traffic accidents. In 2016, law enforcement reported 14 suspected opoid-related deaths in Manchester, N.H.

Ayotte, engaged in a tight race against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, called on the Senate to pass a bill she introduced this week that would increase federal funding to states and localities in their fights against the epidemic. The bill has 42 cosponsors and been endorsements from 130 stakeholders groups across the country, which Ayotte said indicates the necessity for Congress to act swiftly.