The White House is claiming that “lives are at stake” as it pushes Republicans to continue funding the government, warning that a potential government shutdown could affect efforts to combat the flow of fentanyl into the U.S.
“Now, House Republicans have a stark choice to make: will they honor their word, meet their responsibility to avoid a shutdown, and act on life and death priorities like fighting the fentanyl crisis?” White House deputy press secretary and senior communications advisor Andrew Bates said in a memo.
The memo comes as Congress and the Biden administration face a looming government shutdown if the government is not funded beyond Sept. 30. President Biden and congressional leaders are eyeing a possible continuing resolution to keep the government open in the short term while larger spending budgets can be debated. However, the new push from the White House is part of an effort to highlight the damage that could be caused if certain funding dries up.
The White House announced a new tranche of $450 million in funding last week focused on treatment and prevention efforts within the U.S. to stop the opioid crisis — which is linked to 100,000 deaths in 2022. It has also requested approximately $800 million as part of the $40 billion supplemental budget request.
“President Biden is urging Congress to provide $800 million to fight fentanyl trafficking and counter the deadly substance being illegally imported from China,” Bates said.
Illicit fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, can be fatal in tiny doses and is primarily created in Mexico using Chinese precursors before being moved across the U.S. land border. The drug is frequently pressed into fake pills, so users do not know what they are ingesting.
Republicans have linked the fentanyl crisis to what they see as a porous southern border and a migrant crisis they blame on the policies of the Biden administration. The administration has said it is taking an approach that both targets trafficking and treats addiction, an approach it says is showing results.
Some conservative Republicans in the House have opposed any “clean” continuing resolution to keep the government open past Sept. 30, seeing it as an extension of Democratic funding priorities passed under the last Congress. Instead, they want certain demands met, including a House-passed border security bill that Republicans say would also target the fentanyl crisis by securing the southern border.
Meanwhile, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has said she would not vote for any government funding if the House GOP leadership does not open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Greene has been attacked by name by the White House, including in the memo Tuesday.
“The White House is attacking me for demanding an impeachment inquiry before I’ll vote to fund one penny to our over bloated $32 TRILLION dollar in debt failing government,” Greene wrote in a thread on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Bates’ memo highlighted past comments from Republicans in the caucus, who have called the fentanyl scourge an urgent and pressing crisis affecting the whole nation. It also pointed to polling showing that combating the spread of fentanyl was a top priority for many American voters.
“The DEA, Border Patrol, and Department of Homeland Security need the anti-fentanyl funding President Biden is seeking,” Bates said. “Lives are at stake.”
Fox News’ Liz Elkind contributed to this report.