Reschenthaler Criticizes Democrats’ Irresponsible Delay of Legislation to Combat Deadly Opioids

January 28, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) criticized Democrats’ irresponsible decision to delay passage of legislation to combat the flow of deadly fentanyl-related substances into our nation. In nine days, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 2018 order making all fentanyl-related drugs illegal expires. The Senate passed legislation to prevent this expiration nearly two weeks ago, but Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have yet to bring the bill up for consideration on the House floor.


“In 2017, Pennsylvania ranked third in the U.S. in drug overdose deaths, and fentanyl was present in nearly two thirds of those fatalities,” said Reschenthaler. “I am incredibly disappointed that my colleagues across the aisle are dragging their feet on legislation to combat the flow of deadly fentanyl substances into our communities. The opioid crisis is an issue that hits every single congressional district, Republican and Democrat. We should not be playing politics with people’s lives.”


Fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances, which are in the same chemical family and have similar pharmacological effects, are the most lethal category of opioids used in the U.S. These drugs are primarily manufactured in Mexico and China and smuggled into the U.S. Because fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II drug, overseas chemical manufacturers and drug traffickers attempted to evade regulatory controls by creating structural variants of fentanyl that are not listed as illegal.


In response, in 2018, the DEA classified all fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs, making it illegal to possess, import, distribute, or manufacture these substances. The order expires on February 6, 2020, after which time these actions will no longer be illegal. On January 16, the Senate unanimously passed the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act (S. 3201), which extends the DEA’s order through May 6, 2021. The House has yet to act on this bill.


President Donald Trump has made significant progress in stemming the flow of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances into our nation. In 2018, he secured a commitment from China to address fentanyl coming into the U.S. The following year, China permanently scheduled all fentanyl drugs, making them illegal for manufacture, possession, or sale. As a result, in 2019, the amount of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances smuggled in from China decreased.


“The House should have already approved the Senate-passed bill and sent it to the president’s desk for signature,” said Reschenthaler. “Instead we wasted valuable time on the Democrats’ sham impeachment. House Democrats should be ashamed.”


To watch Reschenthaler’s statement from the hearing, click here