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Congress Must Take Urgent Action to Stop the Scourge of Fentanyl


04.14.21

Democrats Cannot Let Emergency Scheduling Expire for Related Substances


The clock is ticking for Congress to take action and make sure law enforcement has the tools they need to keep extremely lethal and dangerous drugs off our streets. The emergency scheduling order for fentanyl-related substances is set to expire on May 6, 2021. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have 7 legislative days (including today) to schedule a vote to extend and make this permanent  

As Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers will say today: If Speaker Pelosi allows this to expire, Customs and Border Protection will lose the authority to seize these substances at Ports of Entry and drug traffickers regain the incentive to push deadlier and deadlier drugs on our streets. 

“There is no excuse to let May 6 come and go without us doing our jobs to keep people safe, break this cycle of despair, and build a more prosperous future for America.” 

 Lives are on the line: 

  • According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), 88,000 people died of an overdose in the 12 months leading up to August 2020. That’s 26.8 percent increase, and comes after the CDC released May data that we had the highest number of overdose deaths in our recorded history.
     
  • Nearly all states are seeing a spike in synthetic opioid deaths—with 10 western states reporting a more than 98 percent increase. 
     
  • Fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances are coming across our southern border and also from China. These drugs can be 80-100 times more potent than morphine—or worse. Just a few milligrams can be lethal. 

A deeper dive in our communities:

  • According to a recent study and this report from Washington state: “Positive tests for fentanyl, which has a legal clinical use as a painkiller typically for cancer patients but in recent years has seen an increase in street prevalence after being smuggled from Mexico, increased 236 percent in Washington between 2019 and 2020.”
     
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently announced: Seizures of fentanyl and heroin made by the DEA in North Dakota increased in 2020 with investigators seeing a 223 percent increase from 2019 in the two drugs combined.
     
  • According to reports from Pasco County, Florida, they are seeing a 71 percent increase in overdose-related deaths in 2020 compared with 2019. Law enforcement officials say synthetic opioids including fentanyl are the primary driver of deaths.
     
  • Just one week ago in Ohio, law enforcement seized 3,000 fentanyl pills during a traffic stop. Another man was also recently arrested in connection with the distribution of “a controlled substance mixture containing fentanyl that caused six people in Lucas County to overdose, two of which were fatal.” 

This scourge is everywhere. It will become even worse if law enforcement no longer has the tools they need to crack down on these lethal drugs that are killing people and leaving many more with no hope.  

There are 7 legislative days left to take action, save lives, and keep our communities safe. Will Energy and Commerce Democrats agree with Republicans to make the emergency scheduling permanent? When will Speaker Pelosi schedule the vote? 


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