Fentanyl was developed in 1959 as a pain reliever and anesthetic. Under the proper medical supervision, it can be used for legitimate reasons. However in any other instance, it is one of the deadliest substances on earth. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. An amount that would cover only a tiny fraction of the face of a penny is enough to kill the average adult. This truly terrifying substance has become so prevalent in our country that it is now the leading cause of death in Americans ages 18-45. More than cancer, COVID, suicide and car accidents. From May 2020 and April 2021, fentanyl-related deaths took 64,178 American lives. Criminal drug cartels are flooding our country with counterfeit pills, with two out of every five pills containing a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.
We’re all aware that the most effective way to address a problem is to get to the root cause of it. In 2021, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized enough fentanyl at our border to kill every person in America almost seven times over. With a problem of this magnitude, there are of course a handful of different factors at play, like drug dealers using deadly fentanyl to stretch their illicit drugs further and inconsistencies for law enforcement regarding the scheduling of the substance. But our country’s unsecure border is very clearly one of the most significant roots of the spread of fentanyl and needs to be dealt with immediately. While CBP agents do an incredible job of helping catch the criminals bringing these dangerous substances across our border, they are outnumbered, and this Administration’s open-border policies have made their jobs an almost impossible task. The sheer volume of drug smugglers and human traffickers that have been able to enter this country is staggering, and the Department of Homeland Security and Customs Border Protection need a great deal more support from Congress and the Administration to protect our border.
Our fentanyl problem has gotten so bad that there is now a national movement from school nurses to provide American schools with Narcan to save students from potential overdoses. Just last month, a 13-year-old in a Connecticut middle school died from a fentanyl overdose at school. The age range of Americans who are being killed by fentanyl continues to go down which is absolutely heartbreaking. This is truly an emergency, and we need to treat it as such. But instead of coming together to pass bipartisan legislation to save millions of American lives, Democrats are trying to make fentanyl, drug trafficking and the punishment for possession a partisan issue.
As I said, the border is a major piece of our nation’s fentanyl problem, but another issue is the scheduling of the drug. Next week, the emergency class-wide scheduling of fentanyl-related substances will expire, meaning some of the deadliest drugs in the U.S. would no longer be Schedule 1 substances. The scheduling of substances reduces illegal uses and trafficking due to the extreme criminal penalties and prison sentences associated with them. Our law enforcement is on the verge of losing that powerful tool.
Last year and again this year, I have introduced H.R. 2041, the SIFT Act. This bill would permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances and maintain one of the tools law enforcement needs to help keep fentanyl out of our communities and prosecute offenders appropriately. Just last week, I offered my bill as an amendment to another bill moving through the House. Unfortunately, without any explanation, House Democrats blocked my amendment from even being debated, so my colleagues and I weren’t given the opportunity to vote on it on the House floor.
Congress should be working to do everything in our power to stop the spread of fentanyl. As far too many of us have seen in our own communities, addiction and accidental overdose deaths don’t discriminate between Republicans or Democrats. Support for responsible solutions shouldn’t either. It’s time Congress gets serious about putting an end to our country’s drug epidemic. And whether certain people like it or not, strong border security, stern punishments for criminals, and well-funded and equipped law enforcement is the way to do it.
CONTACT US: As always, for those of you with Internet access, I encourage you to visit my official website. For those without access to the Internet, I encourage you to call my offices in Jefferson City (573-635-7232) Washington, Mo. (636-239-2276), or Wentzville (636-327-7055) with your questions and concerns. If you want even greater access to what I am working on, please visit my YouTube site, Facebook page, and keep up-to-date with Twitter and Instagram.