Latta, McMorris Rodgers seek to end fentanyl-related deaths

U.S. Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) on Jan. 24 joined nearly two dozen of their GOP colleagues to offer legislation that would combat the ongoing rise in overdose deaths across the nation caused by fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances (FRS).

“Our nation continues to battle a devastating overdose crisis — the vast majority attributed to illicit fentanyl, which has claimed thousands upon thousands of American lives each year,” Rep. Latta said. “This epidemic has wreaked havoc on our communities and destroyed far too many families. It’s time to take swift and decisive action to rid our streets and communities of this dangerous drug.”

Rep. Latta is the lead original cosponsor of the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of (HALT) Fentanyl Act, H.R. 467, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA). Among the 23 other original cosponsors of the bill are Rep. McMorris Rodgers and U.S. Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Buddy Carter (R-GA), John Joyce (R-PA), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), John Curtis (R-UT), and Vern Buchanan (R-FL).

Because fentanyl and FRS currently fall under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act due to a temporary scheduling order that expires on Dec. 31, 2024, H.R. 467 would make that scheduling order permanent and grant researchers the ability to conduct studies on these substances, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“Hundreds of thousands of American families have been devastated by the fentanyl crisis, which was the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-49 in 2021,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers, chair of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

“Passing the HALT Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances and keep these lethal substances out of our communities is one of the committee’s top priorities,” the congresswoman said, “and I commend Reps. Griffith and Latta for their tireless leadership on this effort.”

If enacted, H.R. 467 also would simplify registration processes for certain research with Schedule I substances, remove barriers that currently impede such work, and provide for the exemption of individual FRS from Schedule I when evidence demonstrates it is appropriate, the summary says.

“This bill is an important step in the effort to curb this deadly crisis and help save precious lives,” said Rep. Latta.

H.R. 467 has been referred for consideration to both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.