April 28, 2021

Grassley on Supporting Fentanyl Analogues Legislation

Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
On Supporting Fentanyl Analogues Legislation
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
 
Today, we are considering legislation to permanently schedule fentanyl substances. Proactively scheduling fentanyl related substances must be a priority. Too many American lives have been lost to reject this critical measure.
 
Some wrongly assert that controlling fentanyl analogues is partisan and unnecessary. That’s simply untrue. Legislation to schedule fentanyl analogues is a bipartisan issue. Just last year, this body passed a bipartisan 15-month extension bill unanimously.
 
Also, such authority is necessary. The CDC estimates that fentanyl analogues killed 50,000 Americans in the last 12 months. We must prevent overdose deaths. Prevention is possible when we use our laws to force China to stop the flow of fentanyl analogues.
 
Opponents of permanent scheduling assert that the authority is broad and could result in too many arrests. But, since the Drug Enforcement Administration placed fentanyl analogues in Schedule I, the Justice Department has convicted only 8 people under that authority. This authority hasn’t resulted in vast and wide prosecutions. Rather, it’s targeted and deliberate, as it should be.
 
So if controlling fentanyl analogues is in fact bipartisan and necessary, why isn’t supporting legislation a no-brainer?
 
Perhaps because of heightened partisanship, Democrats can’t vote for legislation that helps law enforcement. Or maybe they can’t be seen as supporting any drug control law, even if it could save thousands of lives.
 
This position goes against the unfortunate truth that 50,000 Americans have died from these deadly fentanyl analogues. Politics has no place above human life.
 
As frustrated as I am by this, it’s not in my nature to throw in the towel. I’ll always work hard to find middle ground.
 
That’s why I’m asking every Senator to support Senator Cotton’s permanent extension, or at a minimum, my bill, the Temporary Extension of Fentanyl Scheduling Act.
 
This bipartisan measure extends the authority to schedule fentanyl analogues for 14 months. It keeps fentanyl analogues in Schedule I until July 2022, which is long enough for the Administration to come to a permanent scheduling solution, and allow for a deliberate and transparent dialogue with Congress. Simply put, we need to give ourselves enough time to find a solution.
 
As history shows us, lengthy fentanyl scheduling legislation isn’t controversial. I’m simply asking for a similar, bipartisan approach now.
 
My bill is the only bipartisan temporary extension bill on the table. I’m grateful for Senators Hassan and Shaheen for teaming up with myself and Senator Cornyn.
 

We can’t limit ourselves in the fight against fentanyl. It’s with this in mind that I urge all my colleagues to support either a permanent extension or my bipartisan bill and to extend the authority to schedule fentanyl analogues for 14 months.