The House of Representatives passed the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act, also known as the HALT Fentanyl Act, on Thursday with the backing of both Republicans and Democrats.
The legislation, which Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, introduced on Jan. 24, aims “to amend the Controlled Substances Act with respect to the scheduling of fentanyl-related substances, and for other purposes,” according to the bill’s text.
“I am pleased the House has voted in favor of my critical legislation with Congressman Latta to permanently schedule deadly fentanyl analogues, strengthening law enforcement’s ability to prosecute fentanyl traffickers,” Griffith said in a written statement. “The bill also promotes research of fentanyl analogues in the hopes of finding medicinal uses.”
“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,” the Virginia congressman said. “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.”
Customs and Border Protection has seized a record 17,000 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border so far in fiscal year 2023, which ends Sept. 30, more than triple the total amount seized in all of fiscal year 2020.
The legislation passed in a 289-133 vote, with 74 Democrats voting in the bill’s favor. One hundred and thirty-two Democrats were joined by Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., in voting against the bill while 13 lawmakers did not vote.
“With today’s bipartisan vote in the House to advance the HALT Fentanyl Act, we are one step closer to curbing the devastating fentanyl poisoning crisis and saving American lives,” Latta said in a statement.
“For too long, our nation has battled an opioid epidemic fueled in recent years by illicit fentanyl and its analogs, which claimed the lives of more than 5,000 Ohioans and 70,000 Americans in 2021,” Latta also said.
Fentanyl is now the No. 1 cause of death among adult Americans under the age of 50, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In 2022, 107,375 people in the U.S. died of drug overdoses or poisonings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and “67 percent of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.”
“The HALT Fentanyl Act would permanently schedule all fentanyl-related substances (FRS) not otherwise scheduled into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act as a class and expedite research into fentanyl-related substances, which the Administration has long supported,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement of administration policy on Monday.
“The Administration’s 2021 recommendations to Congress included additional provisions to improve public safety,” the statement also said. “The Administration calls on Congress to pass all of these critical measures to improve public safety and save lives.”
The Daily Signal’s Virginia Allen contributed to this report.
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