House Democrats are blocking Republican efforts to crack down on fentanyl traffickers and save lives

On Wednesday, 220 House Democrats blocked a bill that would have included fentanyl-related substances, including precursors, in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This would have allowed the government to crack down on those driving the opioid crisis and capitalize on the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. The bill expires on September 31st.

Fentanyl is the leading killer in adults aged 18 to 45. An estimated 80,816 Americans died from opioids last year. 10% of the significant drop in life expectancy in the US, now at its lowest level in over two decades, is due to such overdoses.

China is reportedly the main source of the fentanyl flooding America’s illicit drug market. Mexican cartels working with the Chinese, using materials from China, produce and then Traffic much of the killer drug crossed the US border.

The Stop All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act (HR 6184), sponsored by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and presented with Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) on December 8, 2021, had 88 co-sponsors, all of whom were Republicans.

Griffith stated earlier this week that the law would “bolster law enforcement’s ability to track and act as a deterrent to fentanyl traffickers.”

him before specified that it will also help “curb overdose deaths”.

Aside from making it easier to target traffickers of what some, including Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, call “weapon of mass destruction‘ the bill would have removed obstacles to research said to be necessary for ‘up to 4,800 analogues’ of fentanyl. Of the thousands of analogs, “experts from the NIH, FDA, and other agencies have studied about 30.”

“If this law expires and doesn’t become permanent,” Griffith said, “I suppose those 4,800 analogues are legal… and we need to legislate for each and every one of them.” The HALT fentanyl law makes it so we don’t have to do that.”

Latta stressed the urgency of passing the bill and the need for Congress to take action, saying that “the havoc these substances are wreaking on our communities is devastating.”

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who introduced accompanying legislation with Senator Richard Burr (RN.C.) in the US Senate, stressed that to “ensure law enforcement has the means to combat this trend, we cannot allow this Schedule 1 classification to lapse”.

Democrats seem keen to see that happen. In fact, this isn’t the first time Democrats have blocked the bill. You blocked it February 2nd and further April 1st.

This was suggested in a statement by Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee that “Democrats in the House of Representatives are blocking action on this bill… [b]because they want to relax criminal penalties for traffickers who move fentanyl-related substances.”

Despite Democrats’ refusal to address the opioid crisis with this and other proposed legislative remedies, some members have nonetheless recognized the cost of doing nothing.

Rep. David Trone (D-Md.), who sits on the Congressional Join Economic Committee, compared the deaths from the opioid epidemic to “a 737 (jet) crashing every day with no survivors. It’s a staggering number of deaths.”

New analysis published by the JEC on September 28 said the opioid epidemic has cost the US a record nearly $1.5 trillion in 2020. These costs are expected to increase.

The Republican Study Committee recently highlighted several other legislative efforts to combat the scourge of fentanyl trafficking, addiction, and overdose, including:

  • Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar’s bill providing for life imprisonment or the death penalty for fatal trafficking in fentanyl;
  • Tennessee Republican Rep. Tim Burchett’s bill providing a life sentence for anyone convicted of trafficking in fentanyl; and
  • the late Indiana Republican Rep. Jackie Warlorski’s bill that would allow individuals and attorneys general to sue foreign states for death or injury caused by their inability to combat the illicit fentanyl trade into the United States. House Democrats are blocking Republican efforts to crack down on fentanyl traffickers and save lives

Laura Coffey

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