May 22, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration urges Congress to pass GOP-led fentanyl bill

President Joe Biden speaks alongside Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young as he introduces his budget request for fiscal year 2023 in the State Dining Room of the White House on March 28, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Office of Management and Budget director Shalanda Young alongside President Biden at the White House in March. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Biden administration called on Congress Monday to pass a bill aimed at tackling fentanyl trafficking in the U.S., which would see the synthetic opioid raised to the highest classification of illegal drugs.

Why it matters: The administration's public support for the Republican-led Halt All Lethal Trafficking of (HALT) Fentanyl Act comes amid a growing synthetic opioid crisis in the U.S.

  • A report published earlier this month found the U.S. overdose death rate involving fentanyl nearly quadrupled from 2016 to 2021.

Driving the news: Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio) introduced the bill in the House earlier this year, which would permanently place all fentanyl-related substances into a schedule I class.

  • That means the currently labeled schedule II drug would be labeled as a drug with a high potential for abuse, which has no currently accepted medical value and is subject to regulatory controls and administrative, civil and criminal penalties under the Controlled Substances Act.

What to watch: The House is expected to vote on the bill this week.

What they're saying: The White House Office of Management and Budget said in a letter that the Biden administration was calling on Congress "to pass all of these critical measures to improve public safety and save lives."

  • Latta tweeted: "Lives are on the line — 77% of adolescent overdose deaths in 2021 were from illicit fentanyl poisonings."

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