House Republicans PASS bill to permanently make fentanyl a Schedule 1 drug


House Republicans PASS bill to permanently make fentanyl a Schedule 1 drug and make criminal penalties harsher: Scores of Democrats back law to crackdown on epidemic

  • Fentanyl is currently the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49 and synthetic opioids have accounted for 66 percent of total U.S. overdose deaths
  • The bill garnered bipartisan support in a 289-133 vote
  • 74 Democrats crossed party lines to vote for the measure 

The House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at cracking down on the deadly opioid crisis across the nation by enforcing stricter penalties for drug traffickers and permanently designating fentanyl as a Schedule 1 narcotic.

By scheduling fentanyl as a Schedule 1 drug, law enforcement is given increased authority to prosecute traffickers as dealers face tougher penalties for possession and distribution. The bill also removes barriers restricting researchers who conduct studies on the substances.

The Republican-led bill garnered bipartisan support in a 289-133 vote, and the only Republican who voted ‘no’ Thursday on the HALT Fentanyl Act was Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky. Seventy-four Democrats crossed party lines to vote for the measure.

Fentanyl is currently the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49 and synthetic opioids have accounted for 66 percent of total U.S. overdose deaths. 

The legislation led by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., now heads to the Senate

The legislation led by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., now heads to the Senate

In 2018, the former Trump administration temporarily scheduled all synthetic opioids, and Congress extended the authorization on a few occasions. But the temporary status is set to expire on December 31, 2024, prompting congressional action to make it permanent.

The Biden administration has been accused of kicking the can down the road on the permanent scheduling, which law enforcement officials say has made their jobs more difficult. 

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy directed his members to take action to address the deadly epidemic as fentanyl and other drugs continue to be smuggled across the southern border with little consequences in place for the dealers who distribute the drug to Americans.

The speaker celebrated the passage of the bill Thursday, saying ‘The HALT Fentanyl Act is one needed tool to help stop the flow of fentanyl and provides law enforcement agencies the authority they need to help them adequately address this crime.’

McCarthy also blamed President Biden for failing to do his job as the drug crisis has gotten worse over the past two years. 

Fentanyl and other drugs continue to be smuggled across the southern border with little consequences

Fentanyl and other drugs continue to be smuggled across the southern border with little consequences

'I urge my colleagues in the Senate to swiftly pass this legislation so that we may send it to the president's desk to be signed into law,' said Griffith

‘I urge my colleagues in the Senate to swiftly pass this legislation so that we may send it to the president’s desk to be signed into law,’ said Griffith

‘Like every other crisis ignored by Democrats, House Republicans are committed to delivering solutions,’ McCarthy continued. 

The legislation led by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Bob Latta, R-Ohio, now heads to the Senate, where there is a companion bill led by Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. 

‘As drug overdose deaths reach historic levels in our country, the HALT Fentanyl Act offers a way to make progress amid the tragedy of addiction,’ said Griffith.

‘I urge my colleagues in the Senate to swiftly pass this legislation so that we may send it to the president’s desk to be signed into law.’ 

The White House has expressed support for the House-led bill, but also urged for narrower mandatory minimum sentences. 

Under Schedule I, if a drug dealer is apprehended distributing 10 grams of fentanyl, they would fave a minimum of five years in prison.

If they were trafficking 100 grams – it would up the minimum to 10 years.



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