Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH) delivered the following remarks at the beginning of today’s full Committee markup on 24 bills.
Excerpts and highlights from their prepared remarks:
“Today is a good example of what we can accomplish when we work together.
“We are moving more than twenty bills to modernize our health care system, lower costs, ensure a robust and secure communications network, and improve people’s lives.
“After a year of lockdowns, our communities are battling the deaths of despair.
“I’m very concerned about the increase in mental health emergencies, especially among young adults and children.
“During the pandemic, overdose deaths also were a record high.
“This hits close to home for all of us. For me, I think about the two teenagers we lost last fall to potential fentanyl exposure.
“Today, we are moving 5 bipartisan solutions to address opioid and stimulant use disorders.
“We must build on this work by first, making the placement of fentanyl analogs in schedule I permanent.
“Law enforcement needs this tool to keep deadly fentanyl analogs from coming across the border and off our streets.
“Second, we also need to work to reauthorize programs at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that expire next year, including those we worked on together in previous historic opioid packages to combat the opioid epidemic.
“In addition, today, we are advancing bipartisan solutions to unleash innovation, boost access to vaccines, and improve public health.
“I’d also like to commend the bipartisan work to extend Medicaid funding for the territories with the bill led by Representatives Bilirakis and Soto.
“I’m grateful for the hard work of my friends and colleagues Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez and Congresswoman Amata Radewagen.
“I’m also pleased we are taking action on eight bipartisan solutions that will strengthen the security of our networks as industry deploys advanced technologies.
“With recent cyberattacks, it is our duty to find solutions that ensure a robust and secure supply chain for our communications networks.
“Finally, before we begin, I must note my concern about the Majority’s reckless tax and spending spree that is in the works for more socialist command and control over health care.
“This markup proves we can work together. It leads to better outcomes and stronger legislation.
“Why draft and rush such a large partisan bill in secret with radical priorities to federalize Medicaid, march to Medicare for All, and jam in Speaker Pelosi’s socialist drug pricing scheme?
“Republicans stand ready to work to lower health care costs, including prescription drug prices.
“This fall should be spent working together to address the substance use disorder and mental health crisis facing Americans, rather than doubling down on more government spending when we’re already seeing negative consequences – prices on everything from gas to groceries are skyrocketing.
“Today’s markup proves what we can achieve, and Republicans stand ready to work.”
“Before us today we have several bills that address important issues. I want to thank the majority and minority committee staff for their hard work on these bills.
“I am pleased to see H.R. 4032, the Open RAN Outreach Act, that I introduced with Reps. Allred, O’Halleran, and Hudson and H.R. 4369, the National Centers of Excellence in Advanced and Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act, that I introduced with Chairman Pallone before us today.
“This advanced and continuous manufacturing bill will create partnerships between the FDA and universities to research and develop innovative, advanced manufacturing technologies. This bill is important as we work to ensure our drug supply chain does not depend too heavily on other countries, such as China.
“Today’s markup also includes bills to address substance use disorders after preliminary data from the CDC released last week showed record high overdose deaths. We lost an estimated 93,331 people in the U.S. to overdoses in 2020, which is the highest annual jump in at least three decades.
“One of the driving factors for this surge in overdose deaths is fentanyl, which the CDC data showed played a role in more than 60% of overdose deaths.
“Before us today we have H.R. 2364, the Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act. This would direct the CDC and other federal agencies to conduct a public awareness campaign on the dangers of synthetic opioids. We must do more than a public awareness campaign.
“Just the El Paso Sector of the Border Patrol has confiscated 41 pounds of fentanyl this fiscal year. In 2019 the El Paso sector found two pounds of fentanyl and nine pounds of fentanyl in 2020. Keep in mind, roughly 2.2 pounds of fentanyl can kill up to 500,000 people.
“The current temporary scheduling of fentanyl analogues expires on October 22, 2021. We must permanently add fentanyl analogues to the DEA’s schedule I of scheduled drugs.
“Today we are also examining several bills pertaining to vaccines. I support efforts to give every American the opportunity to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and other preventable diseases when a vaccination is recommended.
“Lastly, we are examining the Medicaid funding for the territories. I am encouraged by this bipartisan agreement and to see the program integrity measures included. However, we must still work together to ensure this bill and the others are paid for.”
“These bills build on the Committee’s recent work to secure our communications networks and supply chains from untrusted vendors like Huawei and ZTE.
“I am pleased to say that the bills before us were discussed at an oversight hearing and further reviewed in a legislative hearing in the last few months. While the Subcommittee did not markup these bills, each has bipartisan support and is critical for advancing United States leadership and for improving the Federal government’s response to potential future threats.
“I would like to thank my Republican colleagues for their work spearheading several of the bills before the Committee and my friends across the aisle for their willingness to make improvements to all of the bills we are considering today.
“I look forward to advancing these bills and working to get them across the finish line.”