Government omnibus containing Newhouse fentanyl-scheduling bill becomes law

President Joe Biden on Dec. 29 signed into law a nearly $1.7 trillion government funding bill that includes bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) to ensure fentanyl-related substances are listed as Schedule 1 drugs for two more years.

“I am pleased this legislation was included in the final omnibus, meaning certainty and safety for our communities is just around the corner,” Rep. Newhouse said in a statement issued on Dec. 20.

The congressman on March 7 signed on as the lead original cosponsor of the Save Americans from the Fentanyl Emergency (SAFE) Act of 2022, H.R. 6946, alongside bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) to extend the emergency scheduling of fentanyl analogues through Dec. 31, 2024. 

“Fentanyl is wreaking havoc on our communities in central Washington, made worse by President Biden’s open-border policies, which are allowing it to flood across our southern border at alarming rates,” said Rep. Newhouse. “That is why I introduced legislation to extend the scheduling of all fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs so we can ensure our law enforcement officers have the critical tools they need to keep these dangerous drugs off the streets, reducing overdose numbers in our communities.”

The U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 23 voted 225-201 to approve the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, H.R. 2617, which contains Rep. Newhouse’s bill and will fund the federal government through fiscal year 2023. The day before, the U.S. Senate voted 68-29 to pass the funding package before sending it to the president to be signed into law.

However, despite including his bill, Rep. Newhouse voted against the $1.7 trillion omnibus, calling it a “bloated” spending package.

“Over the last year, I have fought to include many of central Washington’s priorities in our appropriation bills,” said Rep. Newhouse on Friday. “While I am pleased many of these have been included in this year’s omnibus…, congressional Democrats manipulated the timeframe so they could insert a number of poison pills behind closed doors in the bloated $1.7 trillion omnibus that made it impossible for me to vote for it in good conscience.”

House Democrats, he said, have spent more than $3 trillion outside of the normal appropriations process, in turn fueling the increase in the cost of living for Americans.

“This bill doubles down on this approach by giving substantial increases to non-defense programs and doesn’t just fail to address the ever-worsening crisis at our southern border, but actually spends taxpayer dollars to incentivize illegal immigration,” said Rep. Newhouse, adding that members did not have sufficient time to review the over 4,000-page bill or include “common-sense provisions,” such as his legislation to alleviate the food supply chain crisis, rising food costs, and the agriculture labor shortage. 

“Ultimately, this bill will only make our inflationary crisis worse, doing far more harm than good for the people of central Washington, which is why I was a strong no,” said the congressman.