White House signals support for GOP-led bill to strengthen penalties for fentanyl trafficking

FILE – This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence at a trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP, File)

The White House on Monday signaled support for legislation led by two House Republicans that would toughen penalties for fentanyl trafficking and provide greater resources to the government to combat the drug.

In a Statement of Administration Policy, the White House welcomed provisions of the HALT Fentanyl Act, introduced by Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio), which would permanently schedule all fentanyl-related substances (FRS) that are not currently listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and provide more resources for research into those substances.

“These two provisions are critical components of the Biden-Harris Administration’s 2021 recommendations to Congress to combat the supply of illicit FRS and save lives,” the administration said in its statement, noting it would require a study of the impact of the scheduling change for fentanyl related substances.

“The Administration’s 2021 recommendations to Congress included additional provisions to improve public safety,” the statement added. “The Administration calls on Congress to pass all of these critical measures to improve public safety and save lives.”

Griffith and Latta have detailed how making the schedule change permanent for fentanyl would give law enforcement more authority to seize the drug and would create greater accountability for drug dealers.

Combatting the spread of fentanyl has been a point of emphasis for the White House, and President Biden has made it part of his “unity agenda” that he laid out during February’s State of the Union address, noting it as a potential area for bipartisan cooperation.

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