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Press Release Published: Jan 11, 2022

Top House Republicans Sound Alarm Over Skyrocketing U.S. Drug-Overdose Deaths

Call for preservation of documents and briefing from DEA, CBP, and ONDCP on steps the Biden Administration is taking to combat the country’s opioid crisis

WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Committee on Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) sent letters to top officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) expressing concerns about America’s fentanyl crisis. Synthetic opioids, mainly fueled by fentanyl, accounted for the majority of U.S. drug-overdose deaths in 2021. The lawmakers are calling on the Biden Administration to preserve all documents and communications related to the drug crisis and are requesting information on any efforts by the Biden Administration to stop the flow of fentanyl across the southern border.
“According to recently released numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. recorded its highest ever number of drug-overdose deaths in a 12-month period from April 2020 to April 2021. These 100,306 deaths represent a nearly 29 percent increase from deaths recorded in the same period a year earlier. Congress cannot ignore these shocking numbers, particularly because the Biden Administration’s border policies are allowing fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances to cross our borders at unprecedented rates,” wrote the lawmakers. “We write to you today to request information about what led to the dramatic increase in overdose deaths and to better understand efforts to fight our country’s opioid crisis.”

According to the DEA, the trafficking of illicit drugs along the southern border by Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations is a real concern and the greatest threat to the U.S. drug market. In addition, the CBP seized more than 11,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl at the southern border in 2021—a 42 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2020. This figure amounts to enough fentanyl to cause approximately 2.5 billion deaths.

“While illicit fentanyl flows across our borders at unprecedented rates, the number of people experiencing depression, anxiety, and trauma continues to skyrocket. The government-imposed lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the drug overdose problems in many ways: increased isolation, increased barriers to treatment, school closures, job loss, economic instability, loss of support systems, and the loss of family and friends… Republican members of the House Committees on Oversight and Reform and Energy and Commerce refuse to stand by as the Biden Administration’s overbearing lockdowns and mandates, ineffective economic policies, lack of border enforcement, and drug cartels destroy and take the lives of hundreds of Americans every day,” concluded the lawmakers.

To assist Congress in its oversight work, the lawmakers are requesting an immediate briefing, the preservation of all documents and communications related to the drug crisis, and any information into steps the Biden Administration is taking to address the flow of illicit drugs. 

Read the letter to the DEA Administrator here.

Read the letter to the CBP Commissioner here

Read the letter to the ONDCP Director here