Providing for Consideration of H.R. Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act; Providing for Consideration of S.J. Res. Providing for Congressional Disapproval of the Rule Submitted By the Environmental Protection Agency Relating to ``Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards''; and Providing for Consideration of H.J. Res. Providing for Congressional Disapproval of the Rule Submitted By the Department of Education Relating to ``Waivers and Modifications of Federal Student Loans''

Floor Speech

Date: May 23, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BURGESS. Madam Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 429 and ask for its immediate consideration.

The Clerk read the resolution, as follows: H. Res. 429

Resolved, That at any time after adoption of this resolution the Speaker may, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule XVIII, declare the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union for consideration of the bill (H.R. 467) to amend the Controlled Substances Act with respect to the scheduling of fentanyl-related substances, and for other purposes. The first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. General debate shall be confined to the bill and amendments specified in this section and shall not exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce or their respective designees. After general debate the bill shall be considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. The amendment in the nature of a substitute recommended by the Committee on Energy and Commerce now printed in the bill shall be considered as adopted in the House and in the Committee of the Whole. The bill, as amended, shall be considered as the original bill for the purpose of further amendment under the five-minute rule and shall be considered as read. All points of order against provisions in the bill, as amended, are waived. No further amendment to the bill, as amended, shall be in order except those printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution. Each such further amendment may be offered only in the order printed in the report, may be offered only by a Member designated in the report, shall be considered as read, shall be debatable for the time specified in the report equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, shall not be subject to amendment, and shall not be subject to a demand for division of the question in the House or in the Committee of the Whole. All points of order against such further amendments are waived. At the conclusion of consideration of the bill for amendment the Committee shall rise and report the bill, as amended, to the House with such further amendments as may have been adopted. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill, as amended, and on any further amendment thereto to final passage without intervening motion except one motion to recommit.

Sec. 2. Upon adoption of this resolution it shall be in order to consider in the House the joint resolution (S.J. Res. 11) providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to ``Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy- Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards''. All points of order against consideration of the joint resolution are waived. The joint resolution shall be considered as read. All points of order against provisions in the joint resolution are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the joint resolution and on any amendment thereto to final passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce or their respective designees; and (2) one motion to commit.

Sec. 3. Upon adoption of this resolution it shall be in order to consider in the House the joint resolution (H.J. Res. 45) providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to ``Waivers and Modifications of Federal Student Loans''. All points of order against consideration of the joint resolution are waived. The joint resolution shall be considered as read. All points of order against provisions in the joint resolution are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the joint resolution and on any amendment thereto to final passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce or their respective designees; and (2) one motion to recommit.


Mr. BURGESS. Madam Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentlewoman from New Mexico (Ms. Leger Fernandez), pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only. General Leave




Mr. BURGESS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, last night the Rules Committee met and reported a rule, House Resolution 429, providing for consideration of three measures: H.J. Res. 45, H.R. 467, and S.J. Res. 11.

The rule provides for consideration of H.R. 467 under a structured rule, with 1 hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Energy and Commerce Committee or their designees and provides one motion to recommit.

The rule further provides for consideration of H.J. Res. 45 and S.J. Res. 11 under closed rules, with 1 hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the committee of jurisdiction or to their designees.

Finally, the rule provides one motion to commit for S.J. Res. 11 and one motion to recommit for H.J. Res. 45.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of the rule and the underlying legislation. Included within the measure is H.R. 467, the HALT Fentanyl Act. It is important to say that the HALT Fentanyl Act makes great strides in addressing the growing fentanyl crisis in our country. By making permanent the scheduling of fentanyl-related analogs in the schedule I category, in addition to giving researchers the ability to conduct studies on these substances, we can begin to repair the damage that this drug has inflicted on our communities and our Nation.

I spent almost three decades practicing as a physician. I have witnessed and heard so many devastating stories of the consequences of this crisis which we now face. We face it in north Texas; we face it across the country.

Between September and March, nearly a dozen teens spread across three schools in Carrollton, Texas, were injured because of fentanyl poisoning. In fact, three of those poisonings were fatal. One death is too many, and we must equip our communities to address this issue from the source.

The Committee on Energy and Commerce has a long history of producing bipartisan policies to actually address the opioid crisis in this country. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, known as the SUPPORT Act of 2018, was a product of our committee, and it made reforms to the way we administer programs to control and respond to and better treat individuals who have a problem with opioids.

However, the landscape has drastically changed. It is now a different disease than what it was in 2018, so we have gone from diversion of prescription opioids to the manufacture and importation of illicit fentanyl, products that are created in the People's Republic of China in their base form, exported to Mexico, imported by cartels, and poisoning our children.

We need to better understand the effects of fentanyl and fentanyl- related substances to better treat patients suffering from exposure. The HALT Fentanyl Act will improve regulations to encourage research so we can better understand the impacts of fentanyl on human health.

Our recent bipartisan mental health package passed in the Energy and Commerce Committee worked on several provisions that would relax regulations to expand access to evidence-based treatment programs and ease restrictions on treatment options for substance use care.

Finally, the HALT Fentanyl Act will ensure that law enforcement officers have the tools to prosecute cases relating to fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances. Due to the crisis at our southern border, illicit fentanyl remains an imminent threat throughout the country. At a time when people are dying at alarming rates from fentanyl poisoning, this legislation is an absolute necessity to counteract this crisis and save our young American lives.

Madam Speaker, also included in this package is a provision that would repeal a continuation of President Biden's war on affordable energy and consumer choice.

S.J. Res 11 would be instrumental in protecting American families who would suffer from additional costs passed along to them and ensure that they, the American public, are able to select vehicles that best fit their needs rather than functionaries in the administration in a far- removed Washington, D.C.

If not for our Republican majority, Madam Speaker, President Biden could continue to act unilaterally to enact his radical Green New Deal agenda. Thankfully, the American public saw fit to entrust Republicans with the majority in the people's House to prevent President Biden and Democrats from acting upon their worst impulses.

Once again, Democrats have seen fit to attack a vital component of our Nation's economy. Why Democrats would want to make more difficult the lives of those who deliver our food and our goods to our grocery stores and our homes, and the fuel to our gas stations, I do not know.

Madam Speaker, what I do know is that every American owes these hardworking men and women a tremendous debt of gratitude that we will not soon be able to repay.

Madam Speaker, in 2021, trucks moved close to 11 billion tons of freight across America. That is over 70 percent of the cargo shipped in the continental United States.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some were sitting in the comfort of their homes while dozens of Amazon packages were dropped at their doorsteps. That was only because of these long-haul drivers who traverse our Nation daily, ensuring our communities are supplied with goods that allow Americans to enjoy a high standard of living and literally preventing American families from starving during the pandemic.

So it is bewildering, Madam Speaker, that Democrats have decided to reward the courage and perseverance of long-haul truckers with onerous and expensive new regulations that will have a devastating effect upon their livelihoods.

Madam Speaker, implementing these new regulations and standards will burden truck drivers with as much as $8,000 per driver in new costs when it comes time to retire their current vehicles.

Democrats pride themselves on being advocates of the little guy, the downtrodden, but I would ask you, Madam Speaker, how is forcing Americans already suffering from the sky-high inflation brought to us by the Biden administration, saddling them with an additional $8,000 from their hard-earned dollars, how is that lightening their burden? Madam Speaker, simply, it does not.

Once again, President Biden and members of the Democratic Party are so single-minded in their pursuit of this Green New Deal agenda that they are blind to the obvious collateral damage that their policies are inflicting. Thankfully, our Republican majority will be able to deliver tangible relief by repealing this counterproductive and misguided executive action.

Madam Speaker, today, we are also considering H.J. Res. 45 to formally disapprove of the authority the administration claims it has to unilaterally forgive student loans.

In August 2022, the Biden administration announced a plan to cancel student debt up to $20,000 for Pell grant recipients and up to $10,000 for non-Pell grant recipients for those making under $125,000 a year.

Madam Speaker, on May 11, 2023, 2 weeks ago, a glorious day, the public health emergency came to an end. Americans are back to work. They are back to school. They are returning to normal life.

The Biden administration is attempting to claim authority for this $315 billion student loan forgiveness through the COVID-19 national emergency status and the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, the so-called HEROES Act of 2003. This 2003 law provided temporary relief to military members during their deployment following 9/11. This is a twisted interpretation of a bill that compensated our Nation's servicemen and -women for their heroic efforts after the Nation was attacked on 9/11.

The bottom line is this is quite likely unconstitutional. It is an overreach of executive authority and would not make student debt disappear. It would instead unfairly shift the burden of student loans to the 87 percent of Americans who did not take out such loans.

Madam Speaker, this is an important rule to consider these important bills.

Ms. LEGER FERNANDEZ. Madam Speaker, I thank Mr. Burgess for yielding me the customary 30 minutes, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, today while we stand here debating this rule, the Republicans' default on America's plan is holding Americans hostage.

Across my district and this country, Americans are wondering what will happen to their food security. How about their Medicare? What about veterans' healthcare? Republicans are holding us hostage so they can protect the tax cuts that they gave to the wealthiest corporations and millionaires.

We need to remember that the debt we are looking at today was incurred by Republicans during the Trump administration, $7 trillion of that.

Do you know what? If they crash the economy, it is not the millionaires who would be hurt. It is working families.

The Republican default on America would impact the very bills we will be talking about today. It would cut funding to fight the fentanyl crisis, treat addiction, reduce pollution, and help Americans pay their bills when a pandemic hits.

The rule we are considering today will make in order three bills.

The first bill is H.R. 467, the HALT Fentanyl Act. We all agree that there is a scourge of fentanyl in our communities, and we all agree it needs to be stopped. There is no district in our country, no family, and no community that hasn't seen and experienced the horrors of fentanyl.

The problem is that this bill isn't going to do what needs to be done to address the fentanyl crisis. To fight the fentanyl crisis, we need more law enforcement funding, and we need to treat addiction.

Right now, as noted, fentanyl-related substances are listed on schedule I. That listing goes to the end of 2024. The main thrust of this bill is to make that listing permanent, but our communities are pleading with us to do more than the status quo.

For decades, we tried to incarcerate our way out of addiction, but addiction is a disease, not a crime.

Madam Speaker, I am speaking from the heart. I know most of my colleagues on this floor have heard that I lost two brothers to addiction, two beautiful souls that were taken from this world far too soon. It was partially because there was no treatment available.

This country has failed to treat addiction as the health crisis that it is, so I know personally the pain that fentanyl brings to our families and our communities because I felt that pain when my brothers passed away.

Treatment for addiction can save precious lives, but we lack the capacity to provide those services. Instead, the default on America plan that their crisis is creating would cut funding for mental health and addiction treatment services.

H.R. 467 would also expand mandatory minimums, which takes away discretion from judges to look at each case on its own, which disproportionately harms Black and Brown communities more than others.

Last night in the Rules Committee, Republicans rejected 37 Democratic amendments that would have added more law enforcement funding to interdict fentanyl at border crossings. They would have provided more evidence-based approaches to fentanyl use. They would have made sure that we had the tools we needed to treat addiction.

Instead of creating and finding solutions, Republicans are creating more problems. The Republicans' default on America act will cut funding for Customs and Border Protection, potentially leading to an increase in the amount of fentanyl hitting our streets.

Is this their way of addressing the fentanyl crisis?

We need to do better. We need to make sure we give real solutions to these very serious problems.

Madam Speaker, I am tired of hearing that Democrats are to blame for the fentanyl crisis. We all recognize the need to do more.

Let me remind my colleagues that in the last 2 years, the Biden administration has seized record amounts of illicit fentanyl at the border.

DHS has seized more than 35,000 pounds of fentanyl in fiscal year 2022.

The Department of Justice disrupted or dismantled 130 fentanyl networks.

The administration is expanding access to treatments for those suffering from addictions.

Democrats in Congress filed a funding bill last year that beefed up resources for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program, the National Guard counter-drug program, and the Drug Communities Program.

Contrast that with the Trump administration. A GAO report blasted the previous administration for failing to come up with a coherent national opioid strategy, and the crisis spiked. In the first 2 years of the Trump administration, we saw significant spikes in the fentanyl crisis, and more people died.

According to the CDC, the annual number of overdose deaths from synthetic opioids increased by 192 percent between 2016 and 2020.

In contrast, since day one of this administration, President Biden has provided solutions to the overdose crisis.

Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Langworthy), a valuable member of the Rules Committee.


Mr. BURGESS. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Roy), another member of the Rules Committee.


Mr. BURGESS. Madam Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Norman), another member of the Rules Committee.

Ms. LEGER FERNANDEZ. Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, I agree that we need to make sure that we address fentanyl for every community whether it be New York or New Mexico, because the fentanyl crisis is a public health crisis, and families are losing loved ones every day.

Indeed, in New Mexico in 2020, the New Mexico Department of Health found that 65 percent of people with substance use disorders were not getting the treatment they needed. The same problem we find nationwide. Over 86 percent of people suffering from opioid abuse were not getting the treatment they needed in 2020.

Even once treatment began, people are at their most vulnerable when they suffer from a relapse. Their bodies cannot handle the sudden return of high levels of opioids, and the result is often fatal.

I do hope that we can continue to agree that we must address this and that we must provide an addition to this bill, the kind of funding that is needed and that is urgent to treat addiction.

Jackson Lee), my distinguished colleague.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I give the compliment back to the distinguished gentlewoman from New Mexico. We are alums, and we will leave that for all to find out from where, but I am very proud to stand with her and really to stand with all of those who believe that the scourge of fentanyl must end now.

Mr. Speaker, we should not have one more death. I don't think there is any disagreement on this floor that there shouldn't be any more deaths. I also believe that it is important to recognize that there are some things that we come together on. I have never heard a Democrat be against border security. I have never heard a Democrat be against fighting the scourge of fentanyl taking out children.

As I have said over and over again, as a senior member on Homeland Security and Judiciary, who has written comprehensive immigration bills to protect Americans and to secure our borders, at the same time as the ranking member and former chair of the Crime Subcommittee, I know what to do with fentanyl.

I have introduced H.R. 3570. We have to stop fentanyl now to be able to get at the core of our problem. There is no doubt fentanyl comes in mostly from legal points of entry by United States citizens and others.

It does have other entry points, but the core is to protect the lives of our children. Why couldn't we do our work where we are doing one bill and another bill? H.R. 3570 deals with synthetics. It deals with educational outreach.

Just last night, I was speaking to a young person who said, Can you get Naloxone to be, if you will, in nontraditional places, clubs? Certainly, it should be in schools. It might even need to be in places of civic mindedness because it is where young people go to save their lives. Then synthetics, fentanyl that is used medically, are being sold online in pills that are misrepresented to our young people, and they lose their life.

H.R. 3570 takes care of that, fights the scourge of online sales and fentanyl trafficking. There is a pathway of getting to where we want to be, but a schedule I where you are, in essence, doing mandatory minimums that are not stopping, if you will, this horrible traffic. We are indicating we can get to this with enhanced penalties for the actions of the perpetrator so that you don't by mistake get someone innocently doing research or otherwise dealing with this particular drug that we are talking about that can be deadly.

There are scientists, there are responsible medical professionals, and then there are the devastatingly drastic evil people who try to use this to kill our children. We cannot adhere to that.

H.R. 3570 looks at it comprehensively. Working with the Judiciary Committee, working with Energy and Commerce, and all our Members, it is important to put forward legislation that can embrace us all. I believe that we have the responsibility to do the right thing.


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire as to the time remaining.

Ms. LEGER FERNANDEZ. Mr. Speaker, I think what we heard on the House floor today was agreement, agreement on the need to address the scourge of fentanyl and what it is doing to our communities. I think we heard individuals talk about the individual pain they feel, whether it be in Texas, in New York, in New Mexico.

I think we want to hold that sense of agreement on this topic together because we don't always agree on things, but I think in this instance, we agree that we need to put our families first. We need to put the people who unwittingly end up dying from fentanyl with no idea that they were even taking that drug, and we need to remember that pain and that fear that those families must have.

As we talk about this issue, we must also remember that we have to do more. Making sure that fentanyl is classified and is not available with the fentanyl substances is important. We don't disagree on that. The issue that we are raising is the need to do more, and especially given the moment we are living in today.

This week, we are days away from a potential default because Republicans have refused to raise the debt limit. We are in a crisis, and it is a crisis that the Republicans have manufactured. We need to remember what that crisis does. That crisis actually hinders our ability to do the work that is so urgent to combat fentanyl.

Fentanyl comes in through our ports of entry. The Cato Institute, which is not a liberal or progressive institute, notes that 90 percent of fentanyl enters into the country through our ports of entry, smuggled in by, what I would call, despicable Americans who profit off addiction and death.

But let's go back and say what would happen if their default that they have engineered would actually come to be. The Department of Homeland Security has said that if the default in America act goes into effect, it would lead to 2,400 fewer frontline CBP law enforcement officers. That is 2,400 fewer Border Patrol officers. That means that there are going to be fewer officers to help prevent illegal drugs from entering into our country. That would lead to over 150,000 pounds of cocaine and over 350,000 grams of fentanyl avoiding seizure.

The cuts that they have proposed would lead to more fentanyl coming in because there would be fewer officers on the ground to combat it. That is shameful that they would raise and talk about this bill in the angry and loud ways that they have done without acknowledging that the work that they did several weeks ago would actually make this crisis worse.

In New Mexico, as I noted, we know the pain of addiction and overdose all too well. We have lost too many beautiful lives to addiction and fentanyl.

We need to think about what those solutions are that we would want to do. We would want to increase the funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment block grants. That was one of the amendments that was suggested to this rule by Representative Balint.

We want to use Representative Blunt Rochester's amendment, which would have increased education, so stakeholders would know about research and treatment and how to make sure that we make the public aware of these issues.

These are things that Republicans have refused to address in the bills we are looking at today.

I urge my colleagues, I urge those on the other side of the aisle, to really look at what we are doing today. We are doing something that we all agree on, which is addressing a teeny-tiny piece of the fentanyl problem, but we aren't doing what needs to be done in terms of increasing law enforcement, in terms of increasing funding at our borders and for those who are actually doing the work of seizing fentanyl as it comes in, of the law enforcement that must be done. We need to increase that funding, not cut it.

With regard to truck emissions, we cannot tie the EPA's hands. We must keep our air clean. The number of deaths from asthma in children who would survive and not be hurt if this rule goes into effect, would be horrible. I need to tell you that each child who would not be able to breathe because of polluted air is the child that I will think about when I vote on this bill later today.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to point out, first off, that the Republican House has voted on and passed an increase to the Nation's debt limit. This happened 2 weeks ago. Further action is awaiting in the Senate. Further action is awaiting down at the White House. This House, under the leadership of Speaker McCarthy, has acted and acted appropriately.

Furthermore, I would like to point out, in October of 2018, President Trump signed the SUPPORT Act. The SUPPORT Act was the first meaningful step toward countering what was at the time a crisis in this country because of diversion of prescription drugs, the so-called opioid crisis.

Mr. Speaker, it has changed since then. Since 2018, we are now faced with a different disease in fentanyl poisoning brought to us because of an open southern border, because the President has refused to secure the southern border and because the border czar has refused to secure the southern border. As a consequence, we have an unprecedented amount of fentanyl flowing into our country.

Yes, it is quite right, apps on social media have made it easier for kids to get access to this than ever before.

There is some good news. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed for the over-the-counter sale of Narcan that is to begin this summer. That is a good thing. However, that in no way counteracts the increase in illicit fentanyl that is coming across the southern border because of the refusal of this administration to secure our sovereign border.

Back in 2018 when the SUPPORT Act passed, it was largely through bipartisan efforts on the Committee on Energy and Commerce that brought that bill to its signing. Once again, I thank members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and members of the Senate for bringing before us these important pieces of legislation to roll back the damage that President Biden has done in the fentanyl crisis.

Republicans remain united in pursuing a legislative agenda that puts the welfare of Americans above the special interests of a few.

Mr. Speaker, I urge fellow Members to support the rule and support the underlying legislation.

The material previously referred to by Ms. Leger Fernandez is as follows: An Amendment to H. Res. 429 Offered by Ms. Leger Fernandez of New Mexico

At the end of the resolution, add the following:

Sec. 4. Immediately upon adoption of this resolution, the House shall proceed to the consideration in the House of the resolution (H. Res. 178) affirming the House of Representatives' commitment to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare. The resolution shall be considered as read. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the resolution and preamble to adoption without intervening motion or demand for division of the question except one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Ways and Means or their respective designees.

Sec. 5. Clause 1(c) of rule XIX shall not apply to the consideration of H. Res. 178.