Chairman Cole Hearing Remarks on H.R. 467, S.J. Res. 11, and H.J. Res. 45

As prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon. Today’s hearing covers three items. The first I’ll discuss is H.R. 467, the HALT Fentanyl Act.

There isn’t a day that passes where one doesn’t hear of a tragic story of a life taken by fentanyl. There is no state, district, or community that has not been touched by this scourge. This public health crisis has stolen hundreds of thousands of futures—and it’s only getting worse.

Fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans aged eighteen to forty-five. In the last two years, the United States witnessed the largest drop in life expectancy since the early 1920s. Some of that is due to COVID, but a large part is drugs in general and fentanyl in particular. The majority of this deadly substance is seeping in from our open southern border. Drug cartels are gleefully taking advantage of the Biden Administration’s failure to secure the border and pushing this dangerous and deadly substance onto our streets. This must end.

The HALT Fentanyl Act takes two concrete steps to help end this crisis. It permanently lists all fentanyl-related substances on Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, and it creates a registration process for research into fentanyl-related compounds. These commonsense and necessary changes ensure continued research into these substances and gives American law enforcement the tools they need to stop fentanyl-related substances from entering the United States.

Our second item is a joint resolution of disapproval covering a proposed Biden Administration rule concerning emissions from newly manufactured heavy-duty trucks and engines. Senate joint resolution 11, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support, overturns a rule that will drastically increase the cost of new trucks and new truck engines for little environmental gain. The Biden Administration’s rule will make it harder for carriers to purchase new, lower-emitting trucks and engines, particularly for the small carriers with fewer than ten trucks that make up over 95% of the trucking industry. These costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers, raising the prices of nearly every good at a time when American families and businesses are already suffering under rampant inflation thanks to President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ out of control spending.

I know my friends in the minority will insist that this rule is essential to reducing pollution. While it might tick a box for their radical Green New Deal agenda, it will likely have the opposite effect in practice. The EPA estimates the technology required to meet the new rule’s standards could cost more than $8,000 per vehicle. Many small operators will be unable to shoulder such a dramatic price increase, and will instead continue using older, higher-emitting trucks for longer periods of time.

In supporting S.J. Res. 11, we are standing with American truckers, protecting our nation’s supply chain, and safeguarding families from even higher costs.

Finally, our third item is House joint resolution 45, which disapproves of President Biden’s student loan forgiveness scheme.

Last year, President Biden announced his plan to unilaterally “forgive” up to ten thousand dollars in Federal student loan debt per borrower. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this plan may cost as much as four hundred billion dollars. It transfers the cost of these loans from the borrower to taxpayers, some of whom may not have attended college, didn’t have the opportunity to attend college, or have paid off their student debt. And to make matters worse, this spending has not been authorized or appropriated by Congress, meaning that this plan is likely unconstitutional. In fact, back in 2021, former Speaker Pelosi agreed, saying that “People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not.” The Supreme Court is expected to weigh in this summer.

Today’s joint resolution disapproves of President Biden’s potentially unconstitutional scheme. It will ensure that taxpayers are not forced to spend billions paying off someone else’s debts and takes a firm stand against the President’s attempt to overlook the Constitution and Congress.


May 22, 2023