WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives advanced the HALT Fentanyl Act last week, which would permanently place fentanyl-related substances in the Schedule 1 category. A Schedule 1 substance is often described as having no medical use and high potential for abuse.

What You Need To Know

  • A House bill to classify fentanyl analogues as a Schedule 1 substance passed 289-133

  • Kentucky Rep. Brett Guthrie served as an original co-sponsor of the legislation

  • The HALT Fentanyl Act now moves to the Senate for consideration

The HALT Fentanyl Act passed in the House with bipartisan support on Thursday. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., of Bowling Green is an original co-sponsor on this legislation that would permanently classify all fentanyl in the most dangerous category. 

“We’re going to make them permanently illegal and subject to the same criminal sentences that other lethal drugs are,” Guthrie told Spectrum News shortly after the House vote. “This is the number one killer of people from 19 to 49 in our country.” 

The GOP-sponsored bill received the support of 74 House Democrats. 

Prior to the vote, the White House put out a statement calling on Congress to pass the HALT Fentanyl Act. The statement advocated for permanent classification and a new push for research. 

“These two provisions are critical components of the Biden-Harris Administration’s 2021 recommendations to Congress to combat the supply of illicit fentanyl-related substances and save lives,” the Executive Office of the President wrote. 

Guthrie wishes the Biden administration would have gone further in their support of the HALT Fentanyl Act. He emphasized that “the White House put out a statement in support of part of the bill.” 

The Kentucky congressional representative believes that the mandatory minimum prison sentences included in the bill are necessary. 

“The problem is, if you don’t treat them the same, that’s going to proliferate the streets,” Guthrie said. 

The mandatory minimum provision is the main sticking point for opponents. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., spoke out against the required minimum prison sentences for drug distribution that are included. 

“Democrats stand ready to work with Republicans on addressing the fentanyl crisis,” Pallone said on the House floor. “We stand ready to work on permanent scheduling so long as it’s carefully designed to avoid exacerbating inequities in our criminal justice system.” 

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., of northern Kentucky was the only Republican to vote against the bill. 

“Instead of passing bills that expand the failed War on Drugs, we should be focusing on regaining operational control of the border,” Massie wrote in a tweet. “Additionally, one-size-fits-all mandatory minimum sentences are unwise, and this bill increases the number of defendants subject to them.”

The HALT Fentanyl Act now moves to the Senate for consideration.